Bridging the divide: Decriminalize Davenport seeks change on possession laws

Local News

A group in Davenport is lobbying for the city to change the way it approaches the law for marijuana possession.

It started on Facebook as the Decriminalize Davenport group.

The goal is just that.

The group wants the city to rewrite the city code and ordinance so having a small amount of pot, one ounce or about 28 grams doesn’t carry a criminal offense or possible jail.

Illinois’s Recreation Law allows for in-state residents to possess up to 30 grams and for out-of-state residents to carry up to 15 grams.

The founders told Local 4 News it would provide some balance with Illinois’s legalization in less than four months.

It’s as right now, many cities in Illinois are confronting their approach to the first of the year law change.

However, authorities in Iowa say the new law isn’t going to change what they do.

But Decriminalize Davenport points to a list of more than 50 cities that have already made a change.

Decriminal Davenport founder Brian W. said, “It’s been done in other places, so it’s something that’s doable.”

While it’s not as drastic as what’s coming in Illinois, the group is hoping Davenport can consider making a step.

Brian said, “To where it’s allowed to have an ounce or under without penalty in the city of Davenport.”

Decriminalize Davenport has the goal to change the municipal laws on this sometimes controversial green plant.

Brian said, “Easily have some on them, bought it over here [Illinois] legally and just drive across the river absentmindedly not thinking about it being in their car or on their person.”

One of the founders of the group, Brian W. said he’s felt the benefits of this drug.

Brian said, “I have PTSD, so I use it medicinally, and as far as the recreational goes, I have friends that do it recreationally.”

For Brian, he also points to research by the American Civil Liberties Union that African Americans are eight times more likely to be arrested for possession in Iowa.

Brian said, “Want to take away the reason I searched the vehicle was because I smelled marijuana.”

As the primary day nears for Davenport city election, one of the candidates doesn’t see this as a far off idea.

Third Ward city council candidate Phil Armer said, “I’m not saying you should be able to drive around and smoke or use marijuana, or do it in public. It should be enforced just the way alcohol is.”

Phil Armer said he sees the benefits of decriminalization as keeping businesses flowing between the two states, and one day that it might not even be an issue.

Armer said, “Illinois is reaping great financial benefits from the medical cannabis and soon to be recreational and I want to be part of the movement to get my city and state to start reaping those same financial benefits.”

Decriminalize Davenport said they working to have their idea considered by the beginning of the year.

In Illinois, the new law will also clear some marijuana convictions of people’s criminal records.

More than 400,000 people are eligible for automatic expungement or clemency.

Another 300,000 are able to file with the court to have their case reviewed for possible expungement.

This does not include people who have a cannabis conviction connected to a violent crime.

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