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Louisville backs off marijuana charges, will the rest of Kentucky?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

The movement to legalize marijuana is gaining traction across the country. Many states are still hesitant to join that movement. However, several states are taking steps to decriminalize the substance.

The city of Louisville began a similar effort last month.

Louisville rolls back the emphasis on possession charges

The Courier-Journal reports that the Louisville Metro Council passed a new ordinance in June that could reduce the number of marijuana charges in the city. The ordinance determined that city police officers should not see marijuana possession charges as a priority. So, this could reduce the emphasis on arresting individuals for possession.

However, lawmakers do not consider the ordinance as a move to decriminalize marijuana. They simply want police to focus on more significant criminal issues.

Less emphasis does not mean legal 

This new ordinance does not eliminate the consequences of marijuana possession. The use and possession of marijuana are still illegal under Kentucky law. Depending on the amount someone has in their possession, charges can still result in:

  • Misdemeanor charges
  • Jail time, possibly a month or more
  • Fines between $50 and $250

These penalties still exist under Louisville’s new ordinance. But they might not always be necessary. If the police do not prioritize charging individuals with possession, then individuals could avoid the consequences of these charges.

Will Kentucky follow the same path?

There is still quite the controversy surrounding the new ordinance. Some lawmakers disagree strongly with reducing the emphasis on drug charges. And both the police department and the mayor declared their duty to follow the law of the commonwealth first, not the city’s ordinance.

However, this is a step forward in the commonwealth. The current marijuana laws are strict. But other cities might pass ordinances like Louisville in the future, which could lead to statewide decriminalization of marijuana use.