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Proposal could reduce Eau Claire County marijuana possession penalty

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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY (WQOW) - Possessing marijuana could cost Eau Claire County residents just a buck if caught red-handed.

On Wednesday night, the City-County Board of Health is discussing support of a proposed ordinance change put forward by a county supervisor that would reduce the penalty, or forfeiture amount, to $1.

Court officials say the current fine for marijuana possession in the county is $210.13 after court surcharges.

Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese said as a public health official, she sees the public health impacts from incarceration and criminalization of drug use, like having a record of drug possession, which could then affect someone's ability to find housing or employment.

Although she does not have a vote on the matter, Giese said the potential change can help decriminalize marijuana possession.

"I support that as a health officer. I think that handling drug issues in the criminal court system when they are these small amounts of possession really impact those who are Black and brown in our communities. It's a racial justice issue and it's a health equity issue," Giese said.

The Eau Claire City Council approved lowering the penalty to just $1 for first-time marijuana possession back in November 2018.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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