Ohio: Marijuana paraphernalia decriminalized
Even though possession of up to nearly four ounces of marijuana is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, as an assistant prosecutor there, I frequently saw cops arrest people with small amounts, not for the marijuana itself, but for the pipe or papers it was in. That’s because possession of paraphernalia was still considered a fourth degree misdemeanor. Not any more.
A bipartisan bill — SB 337 — recently signed by Gov. John Kasich focuses on removing barriers to employment for convicted felons; it also includes a little-noticed provision that corrects this loophole in Ohio law by making possession of paraphernalia intended for use with marijuana a minor misdemeanor. Unlike a fourth degree misdemeanor, police are generally required to cite, not arrest, someone for a minor misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is a $150 fine with no jail time and no criminal record. One important caveat: the new law still mandates a driver’s license suspension of six months to five years for anyone convicted. The new law takes effect September 28.
Overall, this is good news, and we hope see more soon. One way to make Ohio’s laws even better is by asking your legislators to give medical marijuana patients a safe, legal way to obtain their medicine.
Thanks for all you do!