Columbus City Council Passes Reduced Penalties for Marijuana Possession

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN)--Columbus City Council unanimously passed a measure Monday that reforms the penalties for possession of marijuana.

Council President Shannon Hardin says it follows feedback from the community, and studies that show the current penalties are enforced disproportionately toward african-americans.

The changes make marijuana possession a minor misdemeanor, with holding less than 100-grams of pot a fine of $10, and less than 200-grams of marijuana a fine of $25.

Council also set up a program to have the records of those convicted of low-level marijuana offenses sealed. Hardin says the records hinder offenders from finding a job or obtaining a professional license.

One staunch critic of the move is Columbus Police Deputy Chief Kenneth Kuebler. He says offenders can have 400 "joints" in their pocket, and only face a $25 fine, while a 20-year-old found drinking a beer at a bar can face up to six months in jail.

The new regulations take effect in 30 days.

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