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Village formally reduces marijuana possession penalties in updated city code

THE VILLAGE, Okla. - Village city officials have formally reduced penalties for simple marijuana possession, doing away with the possibility of jail time.

Under the new 2018 city code adopted this week by the city council, anyone found to possess one ounce of marijuana or less illegally can be subject a $200 fine.

"It used to be up to a $800 fine and up to 60 days in jail, and so the council felt it would be appropriate to reduce that penalty," said city manager Bruce Stone.

Though it was only formally adopted this week, Village Police Chief Paul Kinman said the practice has been in place for about two years.

"We have other misdemeanor laws that we’re just citing and releasing on, so that’s just another one with community standards, change in people’s attitudes towards marijuana," Kinman said. "I don’t know if we were ahead of curb, but it’s just something we’ve been doing."

According to Stone, the city re-codification is completed every two years.

"In other words what that means is that we take all of the other ordinances that were passed since the code book was codified, and we put them in the code and we published them," he said.

Allie Shinn with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma told News 4 that the change in attitude towards prosecuting for marijuana possession appears to not only be shared in Oklahoma but possibly nationwide.

"We’re seeing law enforcement, government officials beginning to realize we need a more sensible drug policy, and what The Village has done is codify a very important step along the way to a policy that make more sense for Oklahoman," Shinn said. "We know that so many municipalities across Oklahoma are changing the way they deal with marijuana or considering making that change, and we’re so excited to see this. This is frankly long overdue."

The new code goes into effect immediately.

This is not the first municipality in Oklahoma to adopt new ordinances for marijuana possession penalties. In September, the Oklahoma City council approved a change in ordinance lowering the maximum fine for simple possession of marijuana to $400. This was proposed Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.

In Norman,  a second and final reading regarding a reduction in penalty for marijuana possession will be held at the Jan. 8. council meeting. According to the city's chief communications officer, the proposed ordinance would reduce the maximum punishment for unlawful possession of marijuana from a fine of up to $750 and/or 60 days in jail to a fine of up to $400.

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