Madison council approves measures to decriminalize marijuana

MADISON, Wis. — The City of Madison’s Common Council is passing a set of new ordinances that largely decriminalizes having less than an ounce of marijuana in the city.

Under the new ordinances passed Tuesday night, people 18 and older will be allowed to use or possess up to 28 grams of cannabis on public and private property, as long as they have the permission of the property owner, landlord or tenant. Possessing paraphernalia also will not be punished.

Fines for violating the ordinance by having more than 28 grams of cannabis or using it without a building owner’s permission are also being reduced down to $1. Heavier penalties still apply for those charged with intent to deliver cannabis.

Smoking marijuana will still be banned in areas where smoking tobacco is not allowed, and possession of cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school and on a school bus will still be banned.

Alder Mike Verveer, who sponsored the changes, called the measures “long overdue” during Tuesday night’s meeting.

“The reality is we shouldn’t even be talking about this tonight. It’s preposterous and outrageous that the Wisconsin State Legislature has not moved toward legal and regulated adult use of cannabis like so many states have across the country, including many of our neighboring states,” Verveer said.

Recreational use of marijuana is allowed in Illinois and Michigan, and largely decriminalized in Minnesota. Wisconsin’s state laws only allow CBD oil to be used for medicinal purposes.

Ald. Paul Skidmore was the only one to vote against the changes to the city’s ordinances.