Cincinnati City Council member David Mann is countering a recent effort to decriminalize marijuana possession in Cincinnati with legislation of his own that would also eliminate penalties for having the drug — albeit in smaller amounts and only for those over the age of 21.
Last week, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and council member Jeff Pastor introduced two ordinances that seek to eliminate penalties for those caught by Cincinnati Police with either 100 or 200 grams of marijuana. The former is currently a misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine; the latter is punishable by a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Cincinnati City Council delayed voting on either of those ordinances last week after Mann, along with council member Amy Murray, declined to vote to suspend the rules requiring a third reading of an ordinance. Both Mann and Murray said they had a number of questions about the proposed legislation, including questions about age and public consumption.
Mann's ordinance would lower the amount decriminalized to 28 grams, or a single ounce. The legislation also includes the age restriction and a stipulation that smoking in public would still be a criminal offense. The legislation would effectively strike the $150 fine for having that much marijuana. Penalties for possession of more than 1 ounce would remain the same, as would penalties for those under the age of 21.
Mann's office points out that, of the 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — all prohibit public use and restrict legal use to those above the age of 21. Eight of those states limit possession to 1 ounce unless it is in the form of an edible or liquid. Two others — Michigan and Maine — allow up to 2.5 ounces, which is still far less than the 100 grams (3.5 ounces) or 200 grams (7 ounces) that would be decriminalized under Smitherman and Pastor's ordinances.
Smitherman has promised to mount a petition drive to get his ordinance on the ballot if council does not move forward with it.