City Of Moore Hopes To Reduce Incarceration Rates After Voting To Decriminalize Marijuana
MOORE, Oklahoma - City councilors voted to help decriminalize the use of cannabis in Moore. These steps have been taken in response to the passage of State Question 788.
While medical use is permitted across the state, those without a medical license in Moore may not even face jail time if they are caught with marijuana.
It’s up to the officer on scene, according to Sgt. Jeremy Lewis of the Moore Police Department.
“We have the ability now to cite and release, where we didn't have that before. If someone had marijuana before, we did not have the choice. We had to take them to take them to jail, even on a very small amount,” said Sgt. Lewis.
The ordinance officially exempts those with a medical marijuana license from punishment.
Pipes and other devices are also legal if the person possessing them has a medical license under Moore’s new ordinance.
To be clear, those without a license will still face a mandatory penalty. The fine in Moore is $800 for a non-medical user.
Supporters said they hope this will impact Oklahoma’s high incarceration rates.
“I think it is a pretty significant advancement in criminal justice reform in the state of Oklahoma,” said Krystal Golding-Ross, the Chair of the Cleveland County Democratic Party. “Hopefully, we will see people being released. People who have been picked up for simple possession. Let's get them out of jail.”
This is an issue that has united support.
Mike Edwards, Chair of the Cleveland County Republican Party, released this statement to News 9:
“The Cleveland County Republican Party supports efforts of local municipalities to exercise their right of governance as provided by the Oklahoma Constitution. The recent ordinance change by the City of Moore to remove the 60 day jail time penalty for violations of small amounts of marijuana possession do not appear to violate any state or federal laws, and follow suit to recent changes made by the Oklahoma City Council as well. The Republican Party has long advocated for local, state, and federal government to look for creative ways to reduce their budgets to be more effective and efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars. By moving this violation to a cite and release policy, the City of Moore has kept public safety a priority, while also addressing the potential problem of overcrowding jails and expanding budgets."
Moore Police report an average trip to the Cleveland County jail to book an inmate ranges from an hour and a-half to two hours.
This will help alleviate jail over-crowding, but also keep officers out on patrol.
Though, this will be a learning-process.
While Oklahoma City also recently took action, Moore is setting a precedent.
“I am sure there are a lot of lessons we are going to learn: how well this works, what does, what doesn't. This is new to everyone, especially us,” said Sgt. Lewis.
The Norman City Council will hear a similar measure Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
As added information, under Oklahoma’s new law those with a medical license may carry up to: three ounces of marijuana, one ounce of concentrated marijuana and 72 ounces of edible marijuana. They are permitted to owning six plants, six seedling plants and eight ounces at their home.
Police ask that a licensee present documentation during a traffic stop.