In order to align its marijuana regulation for first-time offenders with surrounding jurisdictions, Stevens Point has lowered the penalty for those found in possession of up to five grams of the drug.
With the new ordinance, these offenses will be considered a municipal violation instead of a crime. Offenders will face a citation of $300 plus court costs.
“If the amount is very small, that person is not typically construed as anyone who would be selling it,” said Police Chief Kevin Ruder. “They are likely in possession of it for personal use.”
Repeat offenders and anyone in possession of more than five grams will be charged with a criminal offense through the District Attorney.
“The point of this change is to follow the ordinances of Plover and the county,” Ruder said. “Instead of forwarding charges to the District Attorney’s office, we will have the ability to give a fine.”
Ruder said the District Attorney’s office is currently understaffed, so the new change will offer relief.
“This citation will hold accountability to those breaking the law,” Ruder said. “A fine is better than nothing.”
Ruder said it is important to remember marijuana violations are still taken seriously.
“It is still an illegal drug,” Ruder said. “This ordinance doesn’t decriminalize marijuana use.”
Students have varying opinions on smaller busts being considered a municipal violation.
“I’m not really for or against it,” said senior business administration major Brennan Nelson. “It is against the law in Wisconsin, so you should get in trouble.”
Others said being in possession of a small amount of the drug is not harmful to the community.
“If it’s just a little bit, it’s just a personal thing,” said freshman English major Kyle Pluemer. “It’s not like you’re carrying and spreading it. Obviously drug abuse is a bad thing.”