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Decriminalizing marijuana could save millions in Wisconsin

Drug laws have a wide-reaching effect. They determine what is a criminal act and what you can legally do in a state or the nation. State laws sometimes vary from federal law, so there is much to know.

In Wisconsin, there are drug laws that many believe need to be reformed. Presently, many nonviolent offenders end up spending time in prison or jail because of the drug laws in the state. Additionally, many people who end up in prison are young, with those between 25 and 34 representing the largest group of those jailed for drug crimes.

Marijuana use and possession is still a crime in Wisconsin, and those 24 years of age or younger make up the largest percentage of people who were sent to prison in 2016. A shocking 74 percent of people sent to prison for marijuana-related charges were under the age of 35.

It's because the youth suffers so much that drug laws may need some rethinking. These individuals are just at the beginning of their adulthood, and it's quickly destroyed with a permanent criminal record. Those who are sent to prison may be unable to obtain a job or face heavy fines from court that they cannot afford to pay. Those in this situation tend to end up in a cycle of poverty and unemployment, struggling just to survive.

Over a billion dollars are spent yearly in Wisconsin just to support the state prison system. Around half of all people imprisoned in America are nonviolent offenders, making that appear a true waste of taxpayer money. Some believe it's time to reform the drug laws, going as far as to suggest decriminalizing marijuana. While it has not happened yet, it could in the future. If you're arrested, this possibility is something your attorney can discuss with you.

Source: The Cap Times, "Mary Mueller: Wisconsin needs common-sense reform of drug laws," Mary Mueller, May 18, 2017

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