So there has been a lot talk about how progressive and wise our city council is for finally decriminalized marijuana. If our city council actually decriminalized marijuana, I would agree, but they didn’t. Not even close. They simply passed a law claiming they were decriminalizing marijuana, but in reality, the law added a new penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Prior to this law passing, when someone was caught with small amounts of marijuana, they were issued a citation and given a date to come to court. When they did, their attorney could usually have the case dismissed after they did some community service or took a drug class. Meaning NO CRIMINAL RECORD. Now, an officer making a stop has the discretion to issue a criminal citation, with the above outcome being likely, or issuing a civil, non-criminal citation. The problem is, the civil citation results in a paper trail that cannot be expunged. Though it is not a criminal charge, it is still a record of drug possession. To make things worse, there is nothing to stop the officer from issuing both a civil and a criminal citation. Think about that for a second. Now there can be double the punishment or double the revenue generation for the city. I had an officer tell me in court just this week, when discussing this very law, that he is more than willing to write a civil citation for a joint, but he would write a criminal citation for the paper the joint was rolled with. I can only hope that was a joke (either way, we would win that case every single time).
Passing a law claiming to decriminalize marijuana is baby step in the right direction. However, this law and other marijuana laws in this state and our country (with the exception of a few states) have a long way to go.