CINCINNATI — Former county coroner Dr. O’dell Owens issued a dire warning for the city’s new marijuana law that took effect at midnight Friday.
Owens said it will lead to more homicides and put kids in danger working for drug dealers.
"These young kids walking around with the equivalent of drugs, they're going to be beat up, and we're going to see homicides," Owens said. "These young kids more importantly are going to be used by the drug dealers. If I'm a drug dealer, I can let a child carry my dope for me and do the deliveries because they won't be arrested."
There's no age limit to the new law that decriminalizes possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana (about 3.5 ounces).
It only prohibits smoking pot in public places.
Possession of marijuana is still a violation of state and federal law, but what police will do if someone is caught in the city with 100 grams or less isn't clear. Police said they were still working on their procedure.
Ohio law makes marijuana possession up to 100 grams a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $150. If someone is cited under state law, the offense goes on that person’s criminal record, unlike with the new Cincinnati ordinance.
A city spokesperson released this statement Wednesday:
“Ordinance 175-2019 does not legalize the possession or use of marijuana. It does, however, eliminate the financial punishment associated with the possession and non-public use of less than 100 grams of marijuana. The ordinance allows City law enforcement to cite individuals under a new City law which carries no criminal fine, CMC Sec. 910-23, rather than under the State code. Also, an offense cited under this section is not required by the City to be reported as a criminal conviction. Ordinance 175-2019 does not have any broader application.”