Councilman Blaine Griffin of Ward 6, Cleveland, Ohio, introduced a proposal recently that would eliminate the penalties for possessing moderate amounts of cannabis.
If approved, the ordinance will remove all the consequences — fines, penalties and drug treatment requirements — for possessing less than 200 grams (roughly 7 ounces) of marijuana. Furthermore, the law would also eliminate all penalties for giving away up to 20 grams of cannabis, except when in the close proximity of a school or a child.
Griffin told the local media that the ordinance has been drafted to not only reduce the racial bias prevalent in the enforcement of drug laws but also reduce the collateral effects of convictions for minor drug offenses, such as being barred from educational and housing benefits.
“So far, the war on drugs by keeping marijuana under schedule I hasn’t quite worked,” said Griffin. “Therefore, it’s high time that we reconsidered our laws.”
Even Dr. Leslie Koblentz, Chief Clinical Officer of the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County, is in favor of decriminalization of small quantities. “We need to make priorities,” said Koblentz. “The jails are very overcrowded – it’s neither a suitable place for drug treatment nor an ideal one for mental health care.”
If the ordinance is approved, Cleveland will join Cincinnati and Columbus in reducing the penalties associated with the possession of small amounts of the drug. In Columbus City, for instance, possession of up to 100 grams (around 3.5 ounces) of marijuana will be subject to a fine of up to $10. The individuals caught with 100-200 grams of the drug will face a fine as low as $25. Possession of over 200 grams, however, still remains a felony. Notably, the fine for possession of marijuana paraphernalia was also dropped to $10.