Hattiesburg council passes pot, paraphernalia ordinances

Updated: Jun. 18, 2019 at 5:26 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night removing jail time as a punishment for first-time possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

Under the ordinance, a first-time offender will receive a summons or ticket compelling an appearance in court and a maximum fine of $100. If an officer chooses imprisonment over a summons, the officer must file a written statement with the Chief of Police explaining his or her decision.

Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker said the ordinance fairly mirrors his department’s standard operating procedures.

Current state laws say that first-time possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is punishable by a fine of $100 to $250 and a civil summons rather than an arrest if the offender provides proof of identity and a written promise to appear in court.

If thirty (30) grams or less of marijuana or ten (10) grams or less of synthetic cannabinoids, by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00). The provisions of this paragraph (2)(A) may be enforceable by summons if the offender provides proof of identity satisfactory to the arresting officer and gives written promise to appear in court satisfactory to the arresting officer, as directed by the summons.

Another ordinance passed unanimously prevents the sale of paraphernalia within 750 feet of a church, school, kindergarten or preschool.

State code says it is “unlawful” to “deliver, sell, possess with intent to deliver or sell or manufacture with intent to deliver or sell paraphernalia, knowing or under the circumstances, where one should know, that it will be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance.”

The ordinance also requires vendors to keep paraphernalia out of sight of the public and makes it unlawful to sell to anyone under 18 years old. Violation of the ordinance could be punished by a fine up to $500 or up to 90 days in jail.

“Council has been made aware of items which are primarily designed and intended for use with illegal drugs being offered for sale with the city limits of Hattiesburg and the Council is particularly concerned that such items are being displayed in a manner that attempts to glamorize these products and make them attractive to teenagers and young adults,” the preamble to the ordinance states.

Both ordinances will go into effect in 30 days.

“I think both of these ordinances, together, paraphernalia and the 30-gram ordinance, work in tandem to modernize the City of Hattiesburg’s approach to drug policy, by using best policy and just good, common sense,” Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said Monday night.

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