County attorney, residents react to Jefferson Co. decision on small pot possession prosecutions

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) The announcement by Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell to dismiss citations for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana comes as more cities and states either change marijuana laws or even legalize it for medical or recreational use.

Here in the Tri-State, one county attorney says he’s already talking with other prosecutors and law enforcement officials about that decision.

“If the largest jurisdiction in the state’s going to do it, we’re going to at least look at it and whether that’s something we want to do here,” says Daviess Co. Attorney Claud Porter. He says his office doesn’t see many cases involving amounts of marijuana of an ounce or less. Before any decision on prosecuting future cases is made, porter wants to talk with law enforcement officials.

“They’re the ones out there, they’re the ones making the charges. They need to decide whether that’s something they’re O.K. with not prosecuting. If we’re not going to prosecute, they can decide whether to in fact charge them,” says Porter.

O’Connell’s decision applies to cases where possession of an ounce or less is the only charge an adult faces, the highest class offense, or if paraphenalia is only used for marijuana. He cited a need for an equal enforcement of laws and finding the best use of his office’s limited resources.

“I definitely think it’s a good idea,” says Ozzie Munoz of Owensboro. “It’s nice to know that hopefully that Kentucky takes to decriminalizing it in the long run.”

According to the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, the declination to prosecute does not include cases involving trafficking, cultivating, or driving under the influence.

“I think it’s O.K. as long as there is no death or violence or murder or anything like that,” says Walter Pierce of Owensboro.

Some Owensboro residents supported the idea, but others didn’t, adding they weren’t sure if a similar measure in Daviess County would work.

Meanwhile, Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain told us he wants to study the decision by Jefferson County Attorney’s Office more.

Porter adds any decision on doing something similar may not come until this fall or early next year.

Read the memo of the decision by Jefferson County Attorney on prosecutions of small amounts of marijuana from their website here.

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(This story was originally published on August 29, 2019)

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