Council votes to decriminalize recreational marijuana

City votes to decriminalize marijuana

CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council voted Wednesday morning to decriminalize up to 100 grams of marijuana for recreational use.

The ordinance passed 5-3 in their weekly meeting at City Hall which began at 10 a.m. instead of their usual 2 p.m.

Chris Seelbach, Wendell Young, Greg Landsman, Jeff Pastor and Chris Smitherman voted in favor of the ordinance, while Amy Murray, David Mann and Tamaya Dennard cast the no votes.

Mann said 100 grams is too much to decriminalize while Dennard said she would not vote to decriminalize marijuana until she knew records of previous users would be expunged.

The ordinance will not take effect for 30 days, and when it does, though it will no longer be a criminal offense to possess or use small amounts of marijuana, it will not be able to be used in public.

During the allotted time for public comment, there was no one who spoke against the ordinance.

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and Coucilman Jeff Pastor backed the plan, saying the current one is too harsh. Violators are subject to $25 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Smitherman said it’s a misconception that black people smoke more than white people and said we are creating a permanent underclass.

An alternative proposal from Councilman David Mann failed before Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee Monday.

Mann’s plan would have permitted up to one ounce, or 28 grams, by those 21 and older. It also would have banned public use.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters supports decriminalizing marijuana but believes 100 grams to too much, according to a letter he wrote Mann earlier this month.

Deters called for council to meet with police and prosecutors to determine a minimal amount to decriminalize.

But Smitherman and Pastor are unmoved.

“Thirty-two of our states have moved to medical marijuana. What I don’t want to have happen is to have the state of Ohio adopt the legalization of marijuana - which is not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about the decriminalization of it,” Smitherman has said.

Mann’s proposal still would create criminal records and fines for marijuana use and possession, Smitherman noted.

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