Jackson law enforcement and city officials have a plan to enforce a new marijuana ordinance that they believe falls within the spirit of the law. A law passed in November via a 2,242-1,434 vote decriminalizes up to an ounce of marijuana on private property for those age 21 and older within the city. Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins said the city police department has advised its officers to follow the new law.
“First and foremost, it was my objective to enforce what voters voted on,” Heins said. “We struggled with some details in the law, but it’s the law.” Some of the subjects in the law Heins and others debated were what constitutes private property. “Target is private property, for example,” Heins said. “But we don’t think it was the public’s intention to allow a 21-year-old to possess marijuana at your local Target.”
The proposal changed the city’s code of ordinances to read “none of the provisions of this division shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana on private property by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.” Heins said it’s unclear whether people will be allowed to sell marijuana on private property under the new law.
“We haven’t come up with all the answers,” he said. Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said his office will continue to prosecute state law violations as they always have. “If city police bring a warrant request over a state law we will review it,” he said. “The reality is federal and state laws still supersede city ordinances.”
Heins said JPD officers will still be allowed to enforce state statutes regarding marijuana, but will have to justify their actions and “keep in mind the voice of the people.” “If we have known drug dealer with multiple convictions who has one ounce or less, there’s a chance we’ll still enforce state law,” Heins said. “There will always be extenuating circumstances.”
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