MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Some Milwaukee aldermen say the fines for possession of small amounts marijuana are way too stiff. They want to see the fines lowered. So what does Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn have to say about that?
The question before Milwaukee's Public Safety Committee on Thursday, February 19th was whether Milwaukee's fines for possession of small amounts marijuana are too high.
"I think there`s two ways to answer that question. One, it`s smart not to walk around with marijuana in your pocket. Part two of it is I think it`s reasonable for the fine structure for civil forfeiture to be reflective of the fine structure for improper use of alcohol," Chief Flynn said.
In Milwaukee's Code of Ordinances, possessing less than 25 grams of marijuana carries a fine between $250 and $500. Drinking alcohol in public will get you a fine between $50 and $250, while smoking in a no-smoking area can cost you between $100 and $250.
Thursday's proposal would lower the marijuana fine to between $1 and $5.
Supporters say the higher fines do more harm than good because poor people cannot pay a $500 fine. When they fail to pay, they're arrested on bench warrants, which supporters claim ultimately makes them unable to be hired.
"Their lives are being ruined for these simple mistakes they`re making and opportunity is not being afforded to them and their families because of it," Mike Wilder said.
Members of the committee, including Alderman Bob Donovan have their doubts.
"Although unintended, I believe it would send a message to the community at large that it`s okay to get involved in drugs," Alderman Donovan said.
Chief Flynn says the answer is somewhere in the middle.
"Make it equivalent, while not sending the message that it`s open season for walking around with marijuana in your pocket, while making sure the fees are somewhat equivalent," Chief Flynn said.
The committee did not vote on the resolution. Instead, members gave the sponsors a chance to amend the proposal.
Alderman Donovan believes the proposal will ultimately suggest making marijuana similar to alcohol and tobacco offenses.