FARGO — Fargo City Commissioners took the first step to change city laws on marijuana and paraphernalia to match the new state laws that took effect Aug. 1.
The change will become official at the next city commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 26.
Police Chief David Todd said the city has "no choice" in the matter as the city can't supersede a state law.
The new law decriminalizes possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana and changes it to an infraction with no possibility for any jail time, but a fine up to $1,000. Courts, however, have been giving mostly only fines of $200 and no jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana in many state jurisdictions.
However, possession of one-half ounce to about 17.5 ounces will be a Class B misdemeanor, with a possibility for 30 days in jail and fines up to $1,500.
Possession limits for those with a medical marijuana certification from the state aren't included in the new law. A 2017 law change allowing medical marijuana possession and consumption also hadn't been changed in the city municipal code, so that will also now be addressed, Todd said.
The penalty for possession of marijuana paraphernalia has been changed to an infraction, with the same penalty as for small amounts of marijuana.
However, people younger than age 21 still face a Class B misdemeanor if caught with a small amount of marijuana.
The commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the new state law.
Todd said he didn't think the law change would affect the day-to-day operations of the police department, but might affect the criminal justice system with the lower penalties.