Tuscaloosa Council Committee Approves Fines for Marijuana Offenses
Ahead of Tuesday night's Tuscaloosa City Council meeting, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley presented a plan to the Tuscaloosa City Council's Public Safety Committee that, if passed, would see some low-level marijuana offenses punished by a simple citation as opposed to arresting the offender and taking them to jail.
The measure passed the Public Safety Committee unanimously and will be heard by the full City Council at next week's meeting. If passes the code change would take effect either June 1 or July 1.
"This does not de-criminalize marijuana. This does not change the punishment for the crime. This simply means instead of our officer getting off the street for two hours, and that person walking around the county jail before or at the same time our officer does, we can issue a citation and that person can come to court," said City attorney Scott Holmes.
This plan would impact the following offenses.
- Second-Degree Marijuana Possession
- Improper ID
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Minor in Possession
The goal is to allow police officers to use their discretion during traffic stops or other encounters with the public. A simple citation may additionally deter offenders from opting to flee, which creates dangerous situations.
"If you run from us, or you fight us, you're going to go to jail for your marijuana. This is for cooperative people that may have a dime bag, or small amount of marijuana that we can hand them a ticket, they show up in court and go before the judge," said Chief Blankley.
It's something that's going to save us time. Marijuana, or some form of marijuana is legal in 27 states. So, this is going to save us a lot of time and a lot of people are very cooperative with us and we just give them a ticket and just like an open beverage, we just give them for their beer and move forward. So we're actually excited about this and the amount of time it's going to save officers and we'll have more officers on the street. This is something I fully support and I hope you will as well."
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