The new marijuana ordinance passed by the Fayetteville city council on November 5 was a community effort aimed at creating a policy that will positively affect public health.
The ordinance does away with jail time for individuals convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. The ordinance also lays out a new fine schedule for offenses. A first offense carries a $125 fine, a court date, and a city-approved eight-hour substance abuse prevention/intervention program. For minors under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must also attend the court date.
Second and third offenses carry a fine of $250 and $500 respectively, with the opportunity for a $150 reduction through the completion of a substance abuse program. Additional offenses will result in additional $500 fines.
Fayetteville is now one of 12 cities and counties around the state with a similar ordinance. Among them, the city of Fayettevlle is still in even more limited company.
They are the first to mandate a substance abuse prevention class for the first offense, the first to mandate an assessment for cannabis use disorder (with potential referral for voluntary treatment), and the first to differentiate penalties among three age groups (under 18, 18-20, and 21-plus). Fayetteville is the second to offer a substance abuse prevention class on the second and third offense and the second to mandate a court appearance with a parent or guardian on the first offense for minors.
The ordinance was refined with the help of Fayette FACTOR and Drug Free Fayette. Mayor Ed Johnson thanked them for working with the city “with regards to making sure it has some teeth in it to make sure we get people healthy instead of just incarcerating them.”