As the the defeat of the cartel-style legalization in Ohio continues to be analyzed, many commentators have noted that the biggest cost of ResponsibleOhio’s failed campaign is the continuation of marijuana arrests in the state. Indeed, many argued prior to the election that this flawed initiative should be supported because it was important to end marijuana arrests, no matter what.
And what follows below will mean nothing to individuals who end up with criminal charges for marijuana possession or related crimes in Ohio in the aftermath of this failed legalization effort. Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that compared to most states, not many people actually face criminal charges for marijuana possession in Ohio.
One person faced with criminal charges for marijuana possession is one too many. But marijuana users in Ohio face a much better situation in terms of penalties and arrest trends than most people in the United States.
Here are the facts.
In Ohio, the penalty for possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a maximum fine of $150. Possession of 100 to 200 grams of marijuana is subject to a 30-day jail sentence and a maximum fine of $250. Cultivation of marijuana for personal use is an affirmative defense, meaning personal use has to be established by the defendant, and is a misdemeanor offense.
According to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, in 2012, there were 18,403 arrests in Ohio for marijuana offenses. Most of these (93 percent) were for possession. These include decriminalized offenses involving possession of 100 grams or less.
The UCR program provides data on marijuana arrests in 2012 for most of the states in the country, with the exception of Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
Ohio has one of the lowest arrest rates for marijuana offenses in the U.S. at 159 per 100,000. The only states with lower arrests rates include California and Massachusetts (which changed marijuana possession to a civil offense not reported to the UCR program), Washington and Alaska (which recently legalized marijuana), and the states of Montana, Vermont, Hawaii, Connecticut and Alabama.
By comparison, the national arrest rate was 220 per 100,000. The arrest rate for marijuana in nearby Pennsylvania was 206 and the arrest rate in Indiana was 202.
In 2012, the year Colorado enacted legalization, the arrest rate for marijuana offenses was 201 per 100,000 residents. In Oregon, which had decriminalized possession of small amounts prior to legalization of marijuana in 2014, the arrest rate in 2012 was 270 per 100,000.
The arrest rate for blacks in Ohio, in 2013, was significantly greater than the marijuana possession arrest rate for whites. The arrest rate for blacks was 487; this was 3.7 times higher than the arrest rate for whites, which was 132 per 100,000.
Interestingly, the NAACP opposed ResponsibleOhio’s legalization proposal because it would represent “tacit approval” of a drug that the organization believes has negative effects on families and children. Other state chapters of the civil rights groups have supported marijuana law reform because of the racial disparity in marijuana possession arrest rates. An offer by this author during the campaign to provide ResponsibleOhio with updated data on racial disparities in Ohio marijuana possession arrests received no response.
The analysis of the defeat of Issue 3 continues, with most observers calling attention to the same points raised here.
ResponsibleOhio took the support of marijuana users for granted; they were ignorant of the costs of deploying a Joe Camel-like mascot, Buddie; and it was a mistake to put the initiative on the ballot during an election cycle with low voter turnout. Noting that the organization “begrudgingly endorsed the initiative,” NORML founder and chief counsel Keith Stroup joined High Times in labeling the defeat a debacle, concluding that “the arrogance of this group was amazing, and their failure to understand the caution that is required when dealing with the marijuana issue, as contrasted to many other issues of public policy, was astounding.”
It is true that the marijuana consumers in Ohio are the real losers here. Fortunately, though, most of them remain protected from criminal sanctions by the state’s decriminalization policies.
Utah’s Largest Healthcare Provider Authorizes Medical Marijuana Recommendations
Man Arrested After Offering Weed Wax in Exchange for Fast Food Delivery on Facebook
Iconic Florida Bar Will Be Converted Into Medical Marijuana Dispensary
North Carolina Bill Would Legalize Possession of Up To Three Ounces of Weed
The ‘420 Bill’ to Federally Legalize Marijuana Has Officially Been Introduced
New Study Shows Joints Waste 300 Percent More THC Than Dabs
Professional Skateboarder Suspended After Testing Positive for Weed
Massachusetts Rakes in Almost $24 Million in First Two Months of Legal Cannabis
News5 days ago
Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank
News5 days ago
Iowa GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Legalize Medicinal Psilocybin, MDMA
News5 days ago
Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris Admits to Past Marijuana Use
News3 days ago
New York Considering Ban on Drug Testing Potential Employees for Cannabis
News4 days ago
Jury in Federal Court Finds Drug Kingpin El Chapo Guilty on all Charges
News4 days ago
Texas Resident Enters Abandoned Home to Smoke Pot, Find Tiger Inside
Grow4 days ago
Identifying The Ideal Harvest Window For Big Beautiful Buds
Celebrities5 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: Slightly Stoopid Added To Beachlife Line Up; Miles Doughty Interview