By Michael Bonner [email protected]

NEW BEDFORD — Residents leaned against the walls of the City Council Chambers before Thursday night’s meeting. Others climbed the stairs to the third floor for more space from the standing-room-only crowd that gathered as the terms of three councilors came to an end.

When Council President Joe Lopes slammed the gavel 4 hours, 20 minutes after the meeting began only councilors and media members remained.

It wasn’t until around 10 p.m., after the farewell acknowledgements of Ward 1 Councilor Jim Oliveira, Ward 2 Councilor Steve Martins and Ward 5 Councilor Kerry Winteron, when the council began the hearings, mayor’s papers and new business.

Marijuana in Public

The council unanimously sent an ordinance relative to the use of marijuana to the Committee on Ordinances.

Councilor-at-large Naomi Carney and Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro voiced concerns on criminalizing any aspect of marijuana. Carney said it’s not worth labeling an individual a criminal over the use of marijuana.

“We’re talking about throwing a criminal record on someone,” Carney said. “I’d like to see a bigger fine or something.”

Rebeiro cited figures of disproportionate rates of arrest among the white and black populations.

“The black population is disproportionately being arrested even though we’re a smaller part of the population than the white population,” Rebeiro said. “If you add this I only think it’s going to make things worse.”

The ordinance is laid out in five points

It is unlaw to smoke, consume, use or prepare marijuana in any public way, area or sidewalk within the city.
It is unlawful to smoke, ingest, consume, or prepare marijuana for use in any motor vehicle while it’s on a public way or area in the city.
Violators of the ordinance will subject to criminal arrest and or fines.
Marijuana is defined by the definition held by Chapter 94C

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