Right now in Oklahoma City, those in possession of marijuana could face a fine of up to $1,200 and up to six months in jail.
But under a new ordinance introduced by Police Chief Bill Citty at an Oklahoma City Council meeting August 28, officers would no longer arrest those violators. They would receive a ticket and only face a fine of up to $400.
“That will be if they don’t have a state permit or license that allows them to have it for medical use,” Chief Citty explained.
The ordinance would also reduce the maximum penalty for marijuana paraphernalia possession to a $200 fine and no jail time, and remove the criminal sentence for possession of marijuana in accordance with a marijuana license issued by the State of Oklahoma or pursuant to a valid prescription.
Currently, the maximum penalty for marijuana possession upon conviction of the first offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $200 and or jail up to exceed ten days. Upon conviction of a second and subsequent offense, punishment is classified as a Class "b" offense subject to a fine not to exceed $1200 and six months in jail.
The revision adds possession of a valid permit or license for possession of marijuana as an exception to the general offense that it is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess marijuana.
Only those persons or businesses who violate the ordinance and are convicted of the offense will incur costs.
“It’s significant in that we’re no longer imprisoning people for what is legal in the state right next to us,” said Councilman Ed Shadid. “And I think to me that’s cause for celebration. And it’s a big step forward.”
“We’re still holding them accountable, but we’re not putting them in jail. But they still have to be accountable for breaking what we consider a violation of the law,” Chief Citty added.
A public hearing for the ordinance is set for September 11, and a final hearing September 25.