Minneapolis city councilmen Jacob Frey and Andrew Johnson are behind a push to decriminalize possession of 1.5 ounces or less of marijuana. During the City Council hearing that took place on January 15, the Councilmen gave notice of their intention to introduce their legislation that will amend Title 11, Chapter 223 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances relating to Health and Sanitation by removing marijuana from the list at the next regular meeting of the City Council.
Current state law says that amount of possession is a petty misdemeanor, which is a non-criminal charge and carries a maximum penalty of $200. In Minneapolis, however, that same charge will lead to a misdemeanor, which is criminal, and can result in not just a $200 fine, but jail time and a criminal record.
The proposal made by Councilmen Frey and Johnson want to make the law line up with the state's punishment, but also reduce the fine to $50. Councilman Frey stated that part of their reasoning was that "If you're going to have a negative permanent mark on your record, it should be because you did something that would be seriously bad for society. Let's just be honest, if someone gets busted with a joint, the only thing that's injuring is a bag of Fritos. What we're doing right now is getting rid of the misdemeanor so it would default to the state level."
The Minneapolis City Council scheduled a hearing on this proposal for its hearing taking place later this month. Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder says the department will remain neutral and will enforce whatever the council approves. KARE11 provides additional details in their report.