Marijuana: Cincinnati City Council Votes to Recriminalize 3/31/06

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In a giant step backward, the Cincinnati City Council voted final approval Wednesday for a city ordinance that will recriminalize marijuana possession. The move came despite no public outcry or support and in the face of unanimous opposition from witnesses in several weeks of hearings. A similar effort failed last year, but a new council has been elected since then.

Under an Ohio law in effect since the 1970s, possession of up to 100 grams (slightly less than a quarter-pound) is decriminalized and punishable only by a ticket and a $100 fine. Under the ordinance passed Wednesday, in Cincinnati at least, possession becomes a fourth-degree misdemeanor, with up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses would be a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Those arrested could be ordered into drug treatment programs as well.

The measure was pushed by Law & Public Safety Committee Chair Cecil Thomas, who argued that elevating marijuana possession to a misdemeanor would make it easier for police to arrest and search more people. But only certain people -- Thomas said he did not expect police to target medical users or college students. "That's not who they'll be going after," he said. "I'm not concerned about that because crime is occurring in our troubled neighborhoods."

The measure passed on a 4-2 vote, with Councilman David Crowley and Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell opposing. Tarbell called the ordinance "regressive." Mayor Mark Malloy said he would allow the measure to become law without his signature to express his disapproval, but that he would not veto it because the votes to override a veto were there.

Last year, Cincinnati police handed out 4,100 marijuana possession tickets.

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Issue #429 -- 3/31/06

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Feature: Angel Raich Tries Again on Medical Marijuana, But Judges Sound Skeptical | Feature: Department of Education Backs Down in Face of Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit Seeking Drug Provision Data | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: Mississippi SWAT Team Injures Elderly Couple in Botched Methamphetamine Raid on Wrong Home | Marijuana: Cincinnati City Council Votes to Recriminalize | Drug Testing: Virginia County Drug Tested Sewage at Drug Czar's Request | Pain and the Drug War: Sentence Cuts for Myrtle Beach Pain Doctors | Europe: British Police Using Thermal Imaging to Catch Marijuana Growers | Southwest Asia: Rep. Souder Berates Administration as Soft on Afghan Opium, Confuses It with Heroin, Demands Aerial Eradication | Iraq: Officials Complain of Rising Drug Use, Trafficking | Latin America: US Puts $75 Million Bounty on Colombia's FARC Leaders | Media Scan: Tony Papa on Rockefeller Reform for Alternet, Ryan Grim Knocks Post on Meth Story for the City Paper | Weekly: This Week in History | Paid Internship: Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform/Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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