By Martha Boehm
With a new City of La Crosse marijuana ordinance that takes effect July 24, people who are caught with seven grams of marijuana or less for the first time, could receive a ticket instead of being arrested.
"We think it sends a wrong message that it could soften attitudes about marijuana and we know when attitudes are softened, use increases," said La Crosse Police Chief Ed Kondracki.
Chief Kondracki says juvenile arrests for marijuana use are up 50% this year. With the new ordinance, Kondracki says police officers will determine whether a ticket or arrest is appropriate on a case- to-case basis.
City council member Chris Olson, who introduced the ordinance, says getting a ticket gives people a change to change their ways.
"For a DUI, basically, they get a second chance and I think marijuana should be the same situation," Olson said.
"I don’t think that it will change habits," said City of La Crosse resident Jana Carter. "I think that it will kinda give the mentality that there’s more of a sense of a freedom to do it and that’s dangerous.”
But Charles Gittens says, “It’s the right thing to do because our courts are clogged up a little bit too much the way it is.”
Chief Kondracki says he just wants it to be clear that even with the new ordinance, marijuana is illegal not only in the city, but in the state.
“It is a dangerous drug and we have to be careful that we still engage in our prevention efforts," Chief Kondracki said.
The chief says there is no set dollar amount to a ticket for possession of small amounts of marijuana yet. He says the city council will work with the municipal court judge to determine an appropriate fine.
Article From WEAU13 News