Committee passes ordinance to make marijuana lowest priority for police

Committee passes ordinance to make marijuana lowest priority for police
The next stop for the city's marijuana ordinance is to the full Metro Council for a full vote.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Council's Public Safety Committee passed an ordinance Wednesday that would make small amounts of marijuana one of the lowest priorities for police.

Marijuana is still illegal in Kentucky. The ordinance cannot and would not change Kentucky law that classifies possession of marijuana as a Class B misdemeanor, which could turn in to 45 days in jail.

“This is a pretty moderate law actually that’s intended to eliminate a large amount of unnecessary people going through the criminal justice system,” Councilman Brandon Coan said.

The ordinance defines an adult as someone 21 years or older. It defines “personal use” as one-half ounce or less of marijuana. Councilwoman Jessica Green said she has represented a lot of people with marijuana charges in her job as an attorney.

“When you think about equity and justice, my personal opinion is that this should have happened a long time ago,” Green said.

The ordinance does not apply to the distribution or sale of marijuana, possession of marijuana by someone under the age of 21, driving under the influence or “a marijuana offense that occurs in conjunction with or is related to an act or threat of violence, or where Public Safety Officials reasonably believe that the marijuana offense poses a substantial threat of serious physical harm to the public.”

It also would not add a penalty to officers for citing or arresting someone for possession of marijuana.

Coan emphasized to the committee Wednesday that the ordinance is not aimed at changing state law.

“This is a values judgement for our community,” Coan said. “It’s how we want to treat people. It’s how we want to use our police resources. It’s what we think makes sense.”

Councilman Mark Fox, a former police major, and the only committee member to vote “no” on the ordinance Wednesday, said that while he supports legalization of medical marijuana, and is open to discussion of recreational marijuana, he doesn’t agree with the ordinance.

“I think this ordinance puts a cloud of the unknown for both the police officers and our citizens,” Fox said.

He said he believes it sends the wrong message that marijuana is legal in the state, but it’s not. Advocates, however, are hopeful this will send a message to the state.

“Kentucky is behind and we need to catch up,” Dan Seum Jr., a marijuana advocate, said after the vote. “I’m really appreciative of this council and what they are doing.”

The committee passed the ordinance 3-1 and will now go before the full Metro Council.

To read the ordinance, click or tap here ()

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