Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jun 2016
Source: Herald-Independent, The (Monona/Cottage Grove, WI)
Copyright: 2016 Hometown News LLC
Author: Kevin Passon


Surprise and disappointment have turned to a unique history-making
opportunity for a group of people wanting a $1 fine for possession of
marijuana in Monona.

Members of Madison NORML (National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws), led by President Nate Petreman of Monona, are
collecting signatures to force the issue to a binding direct
legislation referendum on the November ballot. In addition to the $1
fine, the legislation would make possession of marijuana the lowest
priority for Monona police.

a€œOur goal is to collect 1,200 signatures, and we have until July 13
to do,a€ Petreman said. a€œWea€™ve been set up at a few places in the
city, and wea€™ve been going door to door as well. Wea€™re doing very
well right now.a€

State law requires that for a direct legislation referendum to occur,
supporters must collect signatures equal to 15 percent of the number
of those voting in the last gubernatorial election. For this effort,
that magic number is 719, but Petreman said he doesna€™t want to leave
any room for doubt when the signatures get turned in to the city clerk
and are verified.

After more than six months of discussion with local law enforcement,
the issue of lowering the current fine from $313 (including court
costs) to $1 (excluding court costs, making the total fine about $60),
the matter was brought before the city Public Safety Commission in

That meeting appeared positive for Petreman and other supporters;
however, when the commission met again a month later to finalize
action, members voted to leave the current ordinance as is.

a€œIt was kind of like a broadside to us,a€ Petreman said. a€œThey
had seemed pretty positive Jan. 24.a€

At that time a€" and yet today a€" Petreman and others point to a 2010
advisory referendum to OK the use of medical marijuana that passed
with 75 percent of the vote in Dane County and 78 percent in Monona. A
2014 advisory referendum to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin was
approved by 65 percent of Dane County voters and 67 percent in Monona.

a€œIf the campaign is successful, it would make Wisconsin history as
just the second cannabis law reform binding referendum that has made
it to a city ballot,a€ said Danny Conners, a member of NORML.

The first instance of direct legislation used to pass a cannabis law
reform proposal was in 1977 in Madison.

a€œToday, Madison General Ordinance 23.20 remains the second oldest
decriminalization ordinance in the U.S. still on the books,a€ Conners

For more information, visit or search for the
Monona Direct Legislation page on Facebook.
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MAP posted-by: Matt