Compared to many other parts of America, Ohio has fairly liberal marijuana laws. That’s not to say that Ohio’s laws are friendly, but compared to many other states, it’s definitely better. According to Ohio state law, possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine (no jail time). Recently Ohio voters in four cities approved marijuana decriminalization measures that would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 200 grams of cannabis. The cities were Newark, Bellaire, Logan, and Roseville.
In Newark marijuana decriminalization passed with 53% of voters. However, officials in Newark have stated that they will not respect the will of voters and will instead follow state law. Per Newark Advocate:
Newark voters approved decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana Tuesday, but Newark officials said they will not follow the new city law.
Instead, the city will charge all offenses for possessing 200 grams or less of marijuana using state law instead of the new law, Newark Law Director Doug Sassen said.
“The passage of this initiative really isn’t going to change anything in the manner in which we prosecute possession of marijuana,” he said.
To be fair, Newark law enforcement members are not required to follow the city’s law if they don’t want to. However, the City of Newark should want to listen to the will of its citizens, the same citizens that voted to decriminalize marijuana. It will be interesting to see if someone is charged in Newark with violating state law and challenges the charges. I’m not confident that a legal challenge would stand, as state law usually supersedes local law, but I suppose that anything is possible. Either way, shame on the City of Newark for so blatantly disrespecting its citizens!