Election 2020: Four Ohio communities pass marijuana measures
Four Ohio municipalities voted to decrease penalties for misdemeanor marijuana possession in this year’s General Election. (Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP)
Voters in four Ohio villages and townships approved marijuana decriminalization measures in the General Election, according to final, unofficial results.
Adena in Harrison and Jefferson counties and Glouster, Jacksonville and Trimble in Athens passed local ordinances lessening the penalties for misdemeanor marijuana possession of 200 grams or less to no jail time and the lowest fine allowed.
Ohio decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s with a law making possession of a small amount – less than 100 grams – a minor misdemeanor that carries no jail time but a fine. A bill pending in the Ohio House would extend that to 200 grams, or about 7 ounces.
The local measures decriminalize possession of 200 grams or less and marijuana paraphernalia, with no jail time or fines. The four communities have a combined population of about 3,300.
They join 18 other jurisdictions that have enacted decriminalization measures of varying degrees since 2015, either at the ballot box or by the city council. Those include large cities such as Cincinnati and Columbus, as well as Norwood near Cincinnati and Newark in central Ohio.
But not all measures have been embraced by local law enforcement. Norwood police instead cite possession under state law.
Activists had a longer list of local decrim measures in the works this year. But novel coronavirus pandemic-related event cancellations and stay-home orders made it difficult to collect the required number of signatures from voters to qualify for the ballot. A statewide recreational marijuana legalization measure was also in the works but stalled in March for the same reason.
Five states legalized marijuana for adult or medicinal use. South Dakota voters made history Tuesday by approving measures for both in the same election. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota join 11 recreational marijuana states. Mississippi joined 34 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
The Ohio legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and sales began in January 2019.
The push to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Ohio notched four wins on Tuesday.