The Mobile City Council has cancelled a scheduled meeting of its public safety committee to discuss a proposed ordinance that would make the punishment of minor charges, like marijuana possession for personal use, similar to that of a traffic citation.
In a statement released Friday morning, City Council spokeswoman Marion Steinfels wrote that the committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday had been cancelled upon Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s request. She wrote that Stimpson had asked the proposed ordinance be pulled from a future council agenda.
The legislation, which would’ve allowed Mobile Police Department officers the discretion to write $100 fines for minor charges, is not dead. City spokeswoman Laura Byrne said the administration is working with Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich on a revision that would look at the charges included in the proposed ordinance.
“We wanted to work alongside her office to make sure the ordinance was beneficial to the district attorney,” Byrne said.
Rich has not yet returned a call seeking clarification of her office’s involvement in the ordinance.
There is still some public confusion over the intent of the proposal, as well, Byrne said, and the administration has requested time to work that out.
In addition to second-degree marijuana possession, the proposed ordinance would give officers more discretion on charges of loitering, second-degree and third-degree criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, minor in possession, public intoxication, public lewdness, possession of drug paraphernalia and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
When the ordinance was introduced, Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber said the proposal would help keep officers on the streets, rather than have them transport a person to Mobile Metro Jail for a minor charge. Under the current law, officers must make an arrest and transport someone to the jail for one of these minor offenses. Under the proposal, an officer could write a citation for a $100 fine for the same offenses.
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