NEW BEDFORD - A proposed amendment to New Bedford's ordinance of marijuana use in public places is being sent back to committee after debate at Thursday night's City Council meeting.

The City's current ordinance bans the consumption of marijuana on any public way, with violators being subject to a $300 fine.

The amendment would have made public consumption of weed an arrestable offense.

Ward Four Councillor Dana Rebeiro tells WBSM News the proposed amendment basically criminalizes both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, and stagnates any progressiveness within the City's police department.

"Our Chief is very excited about community policing and really helping the police to evolve with the times," said Rebeiro. "We have to look at the past years and the amount of arrests and fact that in the black community, despite the fact that the population is much smaller, the arrests have been almost triple."

Rebeiro suggested that increasing the fines with each additional violation of the ordinance may be a more viable way of curbing public use of marijuana.

The amendment was sent back to the Council's Committee on Ordinances for further discussion.

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