City of Madison retroactively dismisses 282 tickets for possession of marijuana

This week, Madison’s Municipal Court retroactively dismissed 282 tickets for possession of marijuana. refunding residents for any fines they paid.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 7:08 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Weed is still illegal in Wisconsin. This week, Madison’s Municipal Court retroactively dismissed 282 tickets for possession of marijuana, refunding residents for any fines they paid.

It’s a result of a 2020 City Ordinance that loosened restrictions on small amounts of marijuana in the city.

“I think in the end, we all of decided it was not only manageable, but it was the right thing to do,” Michael Haas, city attorney for the City of Madison, said.

Individuals fined for marijuana possession in Madison between February 2019 and December of 2020 will have the charge expunged from their record, according to Haas.

“If there were individuals that were prosecuted prior to 2019 and they want to ask the court to re-open and dismiss their case, that’s something we’re likely to support,” Haas said.

There are still some rules. Individuals can be prosecuted by the City if they possess more than an ounce, are under the age of 18, have it near a school or are smoking in non-smoking designated areas. Moreover, weed is still illegal in Madison because it’s illegal in the state.

“Technically, we have not decriminalized possession of marijuana because we don’t criminalize conduct at the municipal level,” Haas said. “[Within] our ordinances, we only have forfeiture or fines, monetary penalties.”

Haas said it’s still possible for the state to prosecute an individual for possessing less than 28 grams, but that requires Madison Police Department to report that case in the first place.

“I think it would be rare for our police to be referring those cases,” Haas said.

The ACLU of Wisconsin celebrates the retroactive dismissal.

“Breaking the cycle of charging and arresting people for cannabis possession is a step forward in the fight to end mass incarceration and reverse the racial injustice caused by the war on drugs,” Amanda Merkwae, ACLU of Wisconsin advocacy director, wrote in a statement to NBC15.

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