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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Weighing in on Marijuana Policy

As Council Updates Code for Medicinal Marijuana, President Hardin Looking into Reducing Marijuana Criminal Penalties


[COLUMBUS, OH]  With Council poised to approve new medical marijuana zoning rules, Council President Shannon Hardin is working on a proposal to reduce penalties for misdemeanor marijuana offenses for Council consideration in 2019.

On Monday, December 3, 2018, Council will vote on legislation to define where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located, operations requirements, and most importantly, a mandatory set of steps neighboring residents can use to communicate with facility managers.

“As we see these businesses open and new jobs created in the medical marijuana industry, we have a moral obligation to address failed drug policy which has for decades disproportionately hurt young people of color,” said Council President Hardin. “I am committed to reducing penalties for marijuana as a basic step towards criminal justice reform. I’m encouraged by City Attorney Zach Klein and County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien’s bi-partisan reform efforts at the Statehouse. However, given the State’s track record on this issue, Columbus needs to act to keep our residents out of prison for nonviolent offenses.”

The ACLU found that, nationwide, African Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested on drug charges than their white counterparts, despite similar rates of usage. Similarly, according to the Drug Policy Alliance’s estimates, African Americans represent 14% of regular drug users but 37% of people arrested for drug offenses.

Council plans to draft code changes to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in the first quarter of 2019.