Marijuana: Prosecution, charges to be dismissed for possessing 100 grams or less in Cincinnati

Posted at 12:42 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 12:51:20-04

CINCINNATI — All prosecutions and charges for marijuana possession of 100 grams or less in Cincinnati will be dismissed, the vice mayor announced Monday.

City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething and City Manager Patrick Duhaney notified Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman’s office of the dismissals Monday morning.

Smitherman and Councilmember Jeff Pastor introduced an ordinance in May to decriminalize marijuana possession of 100 grams or less, citing a disproportionate number of African Americans that are arrested each year for marijuana possession. The ordinance went into effect in July.

“This is real criminal justice reform in action that will assist our citizens in not having criminal records that unnecessarily impede their ability to get a job,” Smitherman said Monday. “I plan to move forward with a Charter Amendment that will require by law the City of Cincinnati take a proactive approach to expungement.”

Previously, the vice mayor referenced more than 16,000 marijuana-related charges filed under the city’s ordinance between January 2004 and May 2019. He said about 86% of the people charged were African American, and nearly 90% were male.

Possession of 100 grams or less is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, which carries a $150 fine without jail time and a citation that permanently stays on a person’s record.

Though the ordinance does not make marijuana a legal substance, law enforcement no longer cites or fines people possessing 100 grams or less within the city limits. There is also no age limit specified in the ordinance, which has drawn criticism from council members and a former county coroner.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Cincinnati’s new marijuana ordinance

Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio, but recreational use is still illegal. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug like heroin, ecstasy and LSD.

But around the country, 26 states have passed laws to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. Most recently, Hawaii decriminalized possessing three grams of marijuana starting in 2020, and Illinois became the 11th state to legalize the purchase and possession of recreational pot.