Joel Hatfield

Cincinnati City Council Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis

Cincinnati will become the fourth municipality in Ohio to decriminalize cannabis possession, following Dayton, Toledo, and Norwood.

Full story after the jump.

The Cincinnati City Council voted on Wednesday to decriminalize possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis within city limits, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

The day after the approval, the plan was criticized by Gov. Mike DeWine.

“I don’t think it’s a great idea,” the Republican governor said of the plan to the Enquirer. DeWine also reiterated to the paper that he is “against legalization” of cannabis.

“Some people look at marijuana as just some benign drug, and it’s really not,” he said in the report.

Once the ordinance becomes law, Cincinnati will be the fourth municipality in Ohio to decriminalize cannabis possession, following Dayton, Toledo, and Norwood. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has indicated he would not veto the bill.

Under state law, possession of fewer than 100 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $150 fine. Possession of 100 to 200 grams is a jailable misdemeanor offense, and possession of more than 200 grams is a felony in the state. State law does supersede city law; however, police officials told the Enquirer that they would use the city law in prosecutions.

The City Council could consider another proposal by Councilor David Mann that would decriminalize smaller possession amounts. Other council members are working on local legislation to expunge low-level cannabis crimes.

Counselor Christopher Smitherman said that cannabis laws predominately target the city’s African-American communities and create a “permanent underclass.” Smitherman indicated that if his plan is rejected by the council, he would start a ballot initiative petition to put the issue to voters.

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