Marijuana is illegal in the State Mississippi. Councilman De’Keither Stamps says he wants to make the punishment better fit the crime,”What we’re doing is we’re turning users into criminals.”
Advocates like Juan Cloy with the Justice Training Institution says a proposed ordinance would allow people to pay a fine in lieu of jail time, “Anybody with possession of marijuana from 30 grams and below will be issued a citation. We’re not trying to make this legal, but we have to realize we have to be less punitive for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.”
The proposed fine would not be more than $100. Councilman Stamps and supporters say they believe this would free jail space for more serious offenders.
“About 15 percent of the population in Hinds County are non-violent cannabis offenders,” said Bud Hemp with the Mississippi Cannabis Coalition. Jennifer Riley-Collins with the ACLU Mississippi agrees, “Collateral consequences that flow from arrests and convictions such as loss jobs, ineligibility for public housing, suspended drivers licenses and restrictions on federal loans can derail lives.”
The Councilman is optimistic the policy would free up police to investigate more serious crimes.
“In Jackson, we need our police officers to be focused on major crimes, murder, opiods, and all those types of measures so that we can be more effective in our crime fighting.”
The City Council will voted on the proposed ordinance at the next City Council meeting. Similiar policy was adopted in Atlanta late last year.