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Minneapolis councilmen seek to decriminalize minor pot possession

Under a proposal come Friday, the fine for possessing 1.5 ounces or less of weed in Minneapolis would be reduced from $200 to $50.

Under a proposal come Friday, the fine for possessing 1.5 ounces or less of weed in Minneapolis would be reduced from $200 to $50.

Minneapolis City Council members Jacob Frey and Andrew Johnson will introduce a measure on Friday to downgrade minor possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor.

Under current law, getting busted for possessing 42.5 grams of weed, or about 1.5 ounces, carries a fine of up to $200, 90 days in jail, and a criminal record.    

Frey and Johnson would have that scaled back to no more than a $50 fine. The risk of arrest and jail time would be eliminated. Having pot would become more akin to a traffic ticket. 

The measure would mirror state law, which already deems minor possession a petty misdemeanor, but maintains a maximum penalty of $200.

"No one should face jail time for possessing a small personal amount of marijuana in Minneapolis," says Johnson. "We need to remove that risk because it's ridiculous. That's the piece that's egregious to me."

Adds Frey: "Negative permanent marks on a record should be reserved for offenses that are injurious to society," he says. "Smoking a joint is more injurious to a bag of Funyuns than society at large. That's just the reality."  

Though it will take months before it's officially a done deal, "I fully expect this change to pass," Johnson says.