City officials in Kalamazoo have decided it would be better to spend time and money on real crimes rather than possession of marijuana. This week, city commissioners voted to virtually decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of pot. They are hoping this will save money and increase police response times when it really matters.
According to RawStory.com, what used to carry a misdemeanor charge and up to 1 year in jail, will not carry a fine of $100 and up to 93 days in jail. However, if this is your first offense and you plead guilty, you could qualify for a “deferred judgment” which is not entered as a conviction on your record.
Previously, if you were caught with pot, you were prosecuted under state law. Now, officers can cite you without making an arrest.
Small time marijuana arrests were taking up too much time and too many resources, according to officials. They used an “inordinate amount of resources to catalogue and test marijuana held as evidence,” said City Attorney Clyde J. Robinson.
The city based their decriminalization move on a similar one that passed in Chicago this year. Officials there cited the same concerns—that small possession cases were clogging the system and eventually most of them were dismissed.
Because many people choose to break local laws in smoking and possessing pot, law enforcement and the courts are being forced to adjust—to choose which is more important: busting casual pot users or going after “real criminals.” Fortunately, a growing number of towns and police agencies are choosing the latter.
“It is anticipated that enforcement of possession of marijuana will result in savings to the KDPS through elimination of processing arrestees and in lab/evidence expenses,” said Robinson. “The significance of having officers freed up to respond to calls of service instead of being tied up processing an arrest cannot be understated.”
Will other municipalities follow suit? Perhaps. Just as Kalamazoo followed Chicago, others are likely to fall into place as local governments realize fighting recreational marijuana use is fighting a losing battle.
If you are charged with a marijuana crime, or any drug crime, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and your legal options.