The fight to decriminalize marijuana in Jackson heated up Monday. Ward Four Councilman De'Keither Stamps is leading the push that would lessen penalties for possessing pot in the city. A public meeting was held Monday night to hear what the community has to say about this controversial proposal.
“I don't like marijuana, but I don't want to see someone lose their livelihood, something so simple,” said Jackson Resident Anthony Scarbrough.
More than a dozen folks showed up at Jackson's city hall to express their opinions on the pot proposal on the table. The proposed ordinance states that anyone caught with less than 30 grams or an ounce marijuana in Jackson would not have to face jail time or be arrested. Also, that person would not be fined more than $100.00.
Under the current the state code, a person could face from a $250 up to a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail depending on just misdemeanor offenses.
“I think the police force can be used for a lot of other things other than bothering people about something as simple as marijuana,” said a Jackson Resident.
Advocates of the proposed ordinance agree. They say the current laws on the books are turning users into criminals and they tend to target people of color.
“It is how it is enforced. It is disproportionately impacting the African-American community, but we are not smoking it no more than white folks,” said Jennifer Riley Collins, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Others are not sold on the pot proposal. They say it is giving a green light for folks to possess a certain amount of marijuana without no real consequences can lead to trouble. They feel the fine should be increased.
“I don’t get nowhere that you care about the low income to middle-low income,” said a Jackson Resident against the ordinance.
City Councilman DeKeither Stamps is leading the push and says while he respects both sides on the issues, he hopes his fellow councilmen will vote yes to the plan that will decriminalize marijuana at next week’s council meeting.
“It is a very important issue and I look forward to making history next Tuesday,” said Stamps.
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