Lawmakers work to de-criminalize marijuana in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE-- The ACLU of Wisconsin hosted a meeting Thursday on de-criminalizing marijuana in Milwaukee's Bayview neighborhood.

\"De-criminalization is a necessary step,\" said Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee).

Rep. Barnes is working on legislation to de-criminalize marijuana statewide.

\"I think the majority of people, whether you agree with legalization or not, agree that it should at least be de-criminalized,\" said Rep. Barnes, \"and no one should be serving a sentence for this and have their rights taken away\"

He says marijuana offenses are a burden on the criminal justice system, and the racial disparities are clear.

\"African Americans are about 5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts,\" said Rep. Barnes.

The public discussion comes as Milwaukee Common Council considers another ordinance that reduces fines for marijuana possession to $5.00.

\"Racial justice through marijuana de-criminalization-- that is not racial justice, that's a slap in the face,\" said Mary Freeman, a concerned citizen.

Freeman has spent the last five years studying the impact of criminalizing marijuana.

\"You know what, it's all ******** okay, this is a control issue, this is an insult, if I was a black person, I would be outrageous right now,\" said Freeman. 

She wants to see marijuana become legalized statewide, but Rep. Barnes says for now-- that's unlikely.

\"I honestly don't see us being like Colorado or Washington anytime soon,\" said Rep. Barnes. 

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