City Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession Up To 100 Grams

Written By: Ishton W. Morton – June 13th, 2019

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and City Council  Member Jeff Pastor are architects of the ordinance. It is them who proposed to allow people to freely possess 100 grams (3.53 ounces) with no age limit as long as they’re within the city boundaries. It bans marijuana use in public.

The City of Cincinnati has become the six in Ohio that has invested in the decriminalization of marijuana.

It has joined Dayton, Fremont, Norwood, Oregon and Windham. On Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 by a 5 to 3 vote city council passed the ordinance allowing anyone to possess 100 grams in the city without fear of consequence.

However, currently, getting caught with up to 200 grams of marijuana  cannabis) is a misdemeanor in Ohio, and is punishable by a fine of $150 to $250 and up to 30 days in jail, depending on the exact amount.

Nonetheless, these measures won’t affect state law, but it will facilitate protection for marijuana (cannabis) consumers in municipalities that has approved initiatives through local ordinances.

Subsequently, the passage of this ordinance came with concentrated debate from council members.

Accordingly, Council members David Mann, Tamaya Dennard and Amy Murray voted against the ordinance. Meanwhile Council member P.G. Sittenfeld was absent.

City Council Member Jeff Pastor

At the same time, Council members Greg Landsman, Jeff Pastor, Chris Seelbach, Smitherman and Wendell Young voted for Smitherman and Pastor’s ordinance.

According to Dennard who said she supports decriminalization, but wanted to see legislation that would expunge past marijuana convictions as part of a package that decriminalizes the drug.

She added, “I don’t really want to vote for either one until I know for sure that there is a path forward for expungement for people this has already destroyed — disproportionately people of color”. In reality, Dennard seems to be feuding some other deeper and personal issues of resentment(s) or antipathy. She is carrying a bucket of water that does not belongs to her.

Ironically, Murray lamented over a barrage of reservations relative to the decriminalization efforts, including questions regarding lack of an age limit, and a discomfort with the effort expressed by Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac and other issues.

Reportedly, Chief Isaac said he’d rather keep the city’s current law, but that CPD officers will recognize the decriminalization ordinance and police accordingly.

Previous to the vote, Mann said, council is making a big mistake. At this point Mann introduced his own proposal limiting the amount to just one ounce. he continues to argue he couldn’t support the ordinance based on the amount and lack of an age restriction.

Additionally, Mann said, “This says it’s OK if you’re 12 years old in Cincinnati to possess 100 grams of marijuana. Why on earth are we doing that? That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Mann said he requested to hold the vote on his proposal until all nine council members were present.

Mann continues to say, “In almost every one of those states the cap on quantity is one ounce. And in most of every one of those states the minimum age is 21. And in none of them is public use permitted.”

Referring Mann’s argument “This says it’s OK if you’re 12 years old in Cincinnati to possess 100 grams of marijuana” the real question is; at what point should parents be responsible for the children?

That was one of the objections council member David Mann made to the legislation. Mann introduced the legislation decriminalizing one ounce. 

Mann was adamant and unyielding. He said;”The issues to think about are the quantity, where possession and use would be permitted and the age of possession to be permitted.

Thusly, he said; “My understanding is 100 grams is about 300 joints. That troubles me.”

Cincinnati Council members David Mann

Moreover, Mann said; “I remain very troubled by the blessing that this ordinance gives to possession by a minor,” he continued. “This says it’s OK, if you’re 12 years old in Cincinnati, to possess 100 grams of marijuana. Why on earth are we doing this?” I still believe that Mann may have some type of a hidden agenda.

However, contrary to the difference in opinion over this  ordinance  there are enormous merits to Vice Mayor Smitherman’s argument(s).

Amidst quarreling Smitherman had this to say; “These are alarming numbers when we start talking about creating a permanent underclass if you cannot get a j-o-b.”

Vice Mayor Smitherman continues to be extremely adamant and said; “if none of the measures achieve majority support and reiterated today we will mount a petition drive to place the issue on the ballot.”

Smitherman added the ordinance is a matter of fairness, especially for people of color who have been disproportionately cited under both a strict city law in force between 2004 and 2010 and the Ohio Revised Code.

Also, Smitherman said; “This can have big implications. Now someone applies to get a loan to go to college, or they apply for a job in the construction industry, and they’re choosing between someone who doesn’t have a drug conviction and someone who does. We’re creating a permanent underclass.”

Both Pastor and Smitherman referenced statistics that shows 86% of the more than 16,000 citations issued by the city for marijuana possession between 2004 and 2019 went to black residents, most of them black men. Yes! The vast majority of the citations issued took place under a harsher city anti-marijuana ordinance that was repealed in 2010. Stay Tuned!!!!

 

Author: Ishton W. Morton

Formerly, Ishton W. Morton is an educator and promoter for community advocacy which includes creating programs and services, developing partnerships, and changing public policies, laws, and practices to improve the lifestyle of all people I’m still having an overwhelming desire to provide an Outreach Continuing Education process through this media.