EUGENE, Ore. - New signs in the heart of downtown Eugene reminds people "This area is within 1000 feet of a school. Penalties for selling or possessing illegal drugs are more severe."
How much more severe?
If you are caught with less than an ounce of pot elsewhere in the city, the fine is $250.
Within 1,000 feet of a school, the same offense carries a $1,250 fine and the possibility of jail time.
"I believe it will help get people's attention that you really will be facing a felony potentially for something they thought was simply a fine," said Lt. Eric Klinko with the Eugene Police Department.
Carol Berg-Caldwell, who volunteers to observe proceedings in Eugene Municipal Court, came up with the idea for the signs when she noticed confusion in the courtrooms.
She said young people were not aware they were so close to a school when they were fined for the use or possession of marijuana.
"Maybe signs that can warn people that this isn't your minor slap on the hand ticket that you're facing for distributing a pipe, it's much more serious," she said.
Police posted the signs last week around 8th and Oak and through Broadway Plaza and Kesey Square downtown.
Lt. Klinko said the school zone is just one of the reasons he feels the signage will be useful.
"We don't want people using or selling drugs in public anyway, but these are specifically designed in places that people bring their families to come and recreate and enjoy and we don't want nor will we tolerate that type of behavior," he said.