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
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.