This week city officials in Madison, Wisconsin, voted to remove most local penalties for marijuana possession and consumption. This will allow cannabis use by all adults 18 and older.

The Madison Common Council voted unanimously this past Tuesday night to approve a package of three ordinances that overhaul Madison’s marijuana laws.

The changes now allow adults to carry up to about an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis locally and consume it on public or private property. Possession of marijuana paraphernalia will also be allowed.

Where cigarettes or other tobacco devices are banned, smoking the drug will remain prohibited. Additionally no one can have the drug on school buses or within 1,000 feet of a school.

Consumption on private property will require the permission of the property owner, landlord or tenant; otherwise it will carry a $1 fine.

Alderman Michel E. Verveer (D), who introduced the legislation, said at the meeting that the changes were “long overdue.”

He said, “The reality is that we shouldn’t even be talking about this tonight.”

He added that it was, “preposterous and outrageous that the Wisconsin state legislature has not moved long ago toward legal and regulated adult use of cannabis, like so many other states have across the country, including many of our neighboring states.”

According to Vermeer, eventual legalization would bring in significant tax revenue and other benefits for the state.

The measures will also address “undeniable racial disparities” in how existing marijuana laws have been enforced.

“Based on a 20-year study of casual possession of marijuana ordinance citations issued by the Madison Police Department, approximately 51 percent of those citations were issued to whites, and a little over 43 percent were issued to Blacks. That of course is despite the fact that our Black brothers and sisters in no way are anywhere close to 43 percent of our community’s population today,” Verveer explained.

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