Cincinnati increases penalty for marijuana possession
Cincinnati (AP) - City Council is cracking down on people who use marijuana.
The council voted 6-2 on Wednesday to increase the penalty for possessing a small amount of marijuana to include possible jail time.
The new ordinance applies to possession of up to 100 grams - about 3.5 ounces - of the drug. It makes the crime a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. It had been a minor misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $100 fine.
While the minor misdemeanor gets an offender a ticket, a fourth-degree misdemeanor warrants immediate arrest.
"We want to have some control over those young people standing on the corners," said Councilman Cecil Thomas, the bill's author and a former police officer.
The council's vote also makes a second offense a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The council held four hearings on the ordinance during which dozens of people spoke out against the change. None spoke in favor of the change.
The ordinance includes a clause that allows the new measure to expire in 12 months if council does not vote to extend it.
Councilmen David Crowley and Jim Tarbell were the only members to vote against the change. They called the move "regressive."