Cincinnati City Council members are expected to vote 5 to 4 on a 2011 budget plan that repeals the city’s four-year-old marijuana recriminalization law. Council members’ decision to suspend the law is one of several cost-cutting measures that will be enacted in the new budget.
Under Ohio state law, the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana (approximately three ounces) is classified as a ‘minor misdemeanor’ punishable by a $150 fine and no criminal record. However, in 2006, Cincinnati council members enacted a separate citywide marijuana ordinance making minor marijuana possession offenses punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, and a criminal record. Statistics released shortly after the law’s passage reported that the ordinance failed to reduce criminal activity and drug tourism within the city, but did significantly increase local law enforcement costs. Nonetheless, council members voted 7 to 2 in 2007 to make the municipal ordinance indefinite.
By repealing the ordinance, local police and prosecutors will once again have to apply the state law to defendants found to be in possession of marijuana within the city limits.
The Cincinnati City Council is expected to finalize the vote on Thursday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
In recent months, the cities of New Orleans and Philadelphia have enacted municipal proposals reducing minor marijuana offenses from criminal misdemeanors to summary (non-arrestable) offenses. In California, legislation reclassifying the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction became law on Saturday.