Cleveland City Council members are expected to soon approve an ordinance that would eliminate fines or jail time for possession of fewer than 200 grams of cannabis in the city. The legislation is currently being reviewed by Mayor Jackson’s administration and hasn’t been returned to the City Council.
The ordinance was introduced by Cleveland City Councilmember Blaine Griffin last summer and explained that even minor penalties are too harsh for some individuals and can result in more significant punishments.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), out of approximately 55 million adults in the U.S. who claim to use recreational marijuana, white and black adults use it at the same rate. However, the rate of which black adults face criminal charges is four to one in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts.
Cleveland is attempting to follow the lead of other Ohio cities like Cincinnati and Columbus. There are no penalties for possession of less than 100 grams of pot in Cincinnati. In Columbus, possession of less than 100 grams of pot will lead to a $10 fine, while possession of between 100 and 200 grams will result in a $25 fine
Councilman Griffin claims many prosecutors throughout the city are being more lenient with minor pot crimes. One group is attempting to gather signatures to legalize recreational marijuana throughout the state of Ohio.
Lastly, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill at the end of 2019 to legalize cannabis federally. Yet, that bill must be voted on in the House and Senate prior to becoming law.