Wisconsin Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis in the state, but chances of the measure succeeding in the Republican-led legislature appear to be slim. Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said on Wednesday that the penalties currently paid by those convicted of cannabis possession are unjust.
“Possession of small amounts of marijuana is no reason for anyone to serve a prison sentence, lose out on a job, nor lose their voting rights,” said Barnes.
Under the measure introduced on Wednesday, possession, distribution, and manufacturing of up to 28 grams of marijuana or two cannabis plants would be decriminalized. Currently, possession of small amounts of marijuana is treated as a misdemeanor for the first offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. Subsequent offenses can be prosecuted as a felony with a sentence of up to three and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The Democrats’ bill would also prohibit police from using the smell of marijuana as probable cause for arrest and establish a process to dismiss previous convictions for possessing small amounts of pot.