Durham council votes to explore relaxing marijuana enforcement

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham City Council has voted unanimously to explore a plan give people carrying marijuana a ticket instead of a trip to jail.

Members of Durham’s FADE Campaign, also known as Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement, presented the idea during a City Council meeting last week.

“They have to lower the punishment,” said Amir Rezvani, an expert on drug addiction at Duke University, who argues that marijuana is different from other drugs.

“Marijuana is not like heroin or cocaine, or methamphetamine,” he said. “Some people might get addicted to it, but not very often.”

The council voted to have City Manager Tom Bonfield talk with Police Chief C.J. Davis about the having police officers issue citations for misdemeanor marijuana charges rather than sending them to jail.

“I think people are more forgiving when it comes to marijuana,” said Emanuel Kearney of Durham.

FADE maintains even a misdemeanor conviction costs families nearly $400 in court fees and fines. And there can be significant costs in terms of lost educational and employment opportunities, the group said.

“We have so many people in jail and they don’t have to be there,” Rezvani said. “It costs a lot to the society, their families and to the people who are there, because jail and prison are not the answer to problems.”

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