Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile, Alabama is pushing for what is bering referred to as marijuana decriminalization. Simpson is sponsoring a City Ordinance that would reduce the current penalties for marijuana possession to a citation and a fine. In addition to reducing the penalties for other minor crimes, the ordinance is meant to ease the burden on law enforcement so that resources can be devoted to more serious crimes.
“With these minor offenses, people often don’t spend very much time, or any time, in jail. But they do go through a process that takes our officers off the street,”
said Ricardo Woods, attorney for the City of Mobile.
“What we’re doing is cutting to the end of that process.”
Specifically, the decriminalization refers to “Possession of Marijuana Second Degree,” which pertains to possession for personal use. “Most of these seem like victimless crimes,” said one Mobile resident who reviewed the list of crimes that are up for decriminalization. They include minor crimes like Criminal Trespassing, Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Obey City Code, Harassment, Loitering for drug purposes, Minor in possession, Public Intoxication, Public Lewdness, Possession of Marijuana 2nd degree, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle. The specific citation for these crimes would be a Uniform Non-Traffic Citation and Complaint.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson (Sandy Stimpson Mobile photo)
Reducing the penalties for these crimes would also eliminate jail time, but city officials are defensive about referring to the ordinance as the decriminalization of marijuana. “To say that it is decriminalization is wholly inaccurate.” said Woods. And yet a suggested $100 fine and no jail time can be interpreted as such. It is not clear how these offenses would be documented on criminal records.
The debate over the proposed ordinance is expected to be tedious. Some officials are expected to question certain offenses on the list and whether they should receive reduced penalties at all.
Proposals such as these are being made in cities across the country, with similar reasons being cited for reform, including the burden on law enforcement and the effect of a criminal record for nonviolent crimes. While the ordinance will probably not pass, the City of Mobile is at least discussing the potential for marijuana decriminalization.