The Advance-Titan

Group seeks to lessen marijuana penalties

Petitioners around campus have been calling for the decriminalization of marijuana by lowering fines, and they are asking UW Oshkosh students and Oshkosh residents alike to join their cause.
Mark Kelderman, the head of the petitioners around campus, decided to get involved after being inspired by meeting people through a Bernie Sanders volunteer group.
Kelderman said he eventually decided to go to the Democratic National Convention where he ultimately decided to petition for the decriminalization of marijuana.
“Our petition is to reduce the fine for first offense, simple possession of 25 grams or less of cannabis, from the current range of $125 to $500, down to $25,” Kelderman said. “If the community says they want this change, we will then return to change the second-offense penalty because we believe that no one should ever go to jail for cannabis.”
With this move, Kelderman said he hopes Wisconsin can follow suit with his group’s goals and go for a statewide change in cannabis laws.
“Our legislature has failed to respond to the bipartisan public support for cannabis,” Kelderman said. “Sen. Leah Vukmir has used her committee positions to prevent any marijuana-related bills from ever getting to the floor for a vote.”
Kelderman said 24 states have made cannabis more available, and his group intends to force Oshkosh to take action on the legality of the drug.
“While we do not have an option to petition for a statewide change in cannabis laws, this petition for direct legislation would require the Oshkosh Council to adopt the intent of our petition within 30 days, or put the ordinance before the voters in the spring election,” Kelderman said.
According to Kelderman, the number of signatures he and his associates are getting for spring’s election is continuously growing.
“Support in the Oshkosh community has been great,” Kelderman said. “We are past the halfway mark on our time used, and we have collected two thousand signatures with new petitioners coming on board weekly.”
Kelderman said his group is on track to hit their goal.
“At this rate, we should meet our goal of collecting 3,600 valid signatures within 60 days,” Kelderman said. “As people become more familiar with who we are and what we are doing, we anticipate even more support.”
Sophomore and Winnebago County Board Supervisor Aaron Wojciechowski said the petitioners on campus are advocating for a great cause for the Oshkosh community.
“I think the individuals that are petitioning for marijuana possession reform are fantastic,” Wojciechowski said. “I applaud anyone who advocates for change they want to see.”
Wojciechowski said he advocates for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in Wisconsin and hopes changes will come in the future.
“I strongly believe and advocate for marijuana to be legalized both for medical and recreational purposes in Wisconsin,” Wojciechowski said. “Our criminal justice system needs some major reforming in this area.”
Wojciechowski said police departments could use their resources on other crimes, and decriminalizing marijuana would lead to fewer lives being negatively affected.
“Law enforcement should not have to waste time arresting people for simply possessing and/or using marijuana,” Wojciechowski said. “There are more important crimes that should be focused on. Too many lives are ruined due to marijuana possession, and that needs to change.”
Senior Dalton Schuerman said he disagrees with the marijuana petitioners and thinks more lenient laws could cause bigger problems.
“When you decriminalize it, more people will be more likely to do it, and more people will get in trouble,” Schuerman said.
Schuerman said he also believes the impact that this could have on the UWO community, as well as other campuses, will cause greater problems.
“If they don’t have to pay a $500 fine, their views change on it. You’ll see more people walking down the street with it, and it can be a problem,” Schuerman said.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Group seeks to lessen marijuana penalties