Ohio Cities Vote to Decriminalize Marijuana

Ohio Cities Vote to Decriminalize Marijuana

The movement to decriminalize marijuana in Ohio continued with the elections this week, as more cities voted to make marijuana possession the lowest priority for police.

Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, and local officials say they want to protect those Ohio citizens who possess cannabis but do not have a medical marijuana card. Twenty-two cities have already passed local decriminalization initiatives. This time around, several more proposed “sensible marihuana” ordinances designed to de-prioritize possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The idea that it’s decriminalized doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested. It just means you won’t be punished as harshly.

The text for most of the ordinances was simple: “Shall [city] adopt the sensible marihuana ordinance, which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law?” Some spelled out changes to local statutes, specifying the amount of the drug involved is less than 200 grams, and “persons convicted of violating this section shall be fined $0.00.”

The concept is to make marijuana possession a local issue, NEWS9 Legal Analyst Mike Nogay said. “Marijuana is illegal, it’s a Schedule 1 Drug at the federal level. That’s not going to change for the foreseeable future. The idea that it’s decriminalized doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested. It just means you won’t be punished as harshly.”

The ordinances passed in the towns of Martins Ferry, Murray City, New Lexington, New Straitsville, Rayland, Tiltonsville and Yorkville, where marijuana possession will be reduced to the minimum misdemeanor charge allowed by the state. Voters in Brookside, Dillonvale, Laurelville, McArthur, Morristown, Mount Pleasant and Powhatan Point rejected the reform measures.

Noting the highest turnout in the jurisdictions with cannabis on the ballot this year that he saw was just 9%, NORML activist Don Keeney said, “Usually low turnouts favor conservatives views. Yet despite this we still managed to win.”

This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.

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