Councilmember proposes ordinance to erase marijuana charges

Marijuana ordinance
A public hearing on the proposal will take place before council's law committee. (FOX19)
A public hearing on the proposal will take place before council's law committee. (FOX19)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council is considering an ordinance that would allow marijuana offenders to erase the crime from their record.

A public hearing on the proposal, backed by Councilmember Charlie Winburn, took place before council's law committee Monday morning at City Hall.

Winburn says the ordinance would expunge low-level marijuana crimes from records of Cincinnati residents. He believes it could help thousands of residents get jobs, housing and education that they otherwise would not qualify for due to having the misdemeanor.

The ordinance would seal the records of 10,000 citizens who Charlie Winburn says received unnecessary criminal charges from a marijuana law created in 2006. That law doubled the marijuana penalties already set in place by the state of Ohio.

Under the 2006 law, a first offense for possessing 200 grams of marijuana meant a $250 fine, up to 30 days in jail and a misdemeanor four on the offender's record. A second offense gave the offender a $1,000 fine, up to 60 days in jail and a misdemeanor one criminal record.

The law was eliminated in 2012, and Winburn is looking to expunge the crimes for those who were penalized during the law's six-year existence.

"Regardless of how you feel about marijuana, it is illegal in Ohio, but the people who have paid their debt to society should have an opportunity to get their records expunged," Winburn told FOX19 NOW on Monday. He said he would consider suing the city if the ordinance is not supported.

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.