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Cincinnati Will Erase Your Marijuana Arrest

Cincinnati Will Erase Your Marijuana Arrest

Cincinnati City Council member Charlie Winburn is pushing to erase low-level marijuana infractions from the records of nearly 10,000 residents. The City Council had an initial vote on Monday which favored the legislation 4-0 and is expecting the fifth and final vote needed to pass the law tomorrow.

Starting back in 2006, the city of Cincinnati was issuing harsher penalties than the state of Ohio for low-level marijuana possession. Yesterday, the Cincinnati City Council heard statements from the Cincinnati Public Defenders Office regarding the severe implications that marijuana penalties can bring to someone’s life. Public housing, access to educational programs, and career paths can all be derailed by a small marijuana infraction under current laws.

Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said that he would have not asked for tougher enforcement if he were in office in 2006. “We’re in support of anything that helps Cincinnati become a better city,” Blackwell said.

Charlie Winburn who is leading the effort to change city policy is aiming to reduce previous penalties to low level misdemeanors, effectively sealing those records. Once “sealed,” infractions in which offenders possessed less than 100 grams of marijuana would be inaccessible from background checks by employers, educational institutions, and some government programs.

“The trend in what we’re seeing across the country is that marijuana is being treated completely differently and it’s kind of sweeping across the United States of America,” said City Council Member Chris Smitherman. This is certainly evident with cities like Philadelphia opting to decriminalize marijuana as recent as last week. Look for more American cities to begin decriminalizing marijuana over the course of the next few years as low-level offenses are increasingly recognized as more harmful than helpful.

Philadelphia Decriminalization Goes Into Effect

Philadelphia Decriminalization Goes Into Effect

Two weeks ago Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter approved legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today that law has officially gone into effect. The possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana will result in a civil fine of just $25. However, if you’re caught using marijuana, civil fines are bumped up to a $100 ticket and up to nine hours of community service.

“Under this policy, police officers will be able to remain focused on more serious offenses,” said City Councilman Jim Kenney who sponsored the bill. “Many young people will be spared the life-altering consequences of a criminal record, such as limited job prospects, inability to obtain student loans or even join the armed services.”

Philadelphia has now become the largest American city to decriminalize marijuana. Although marijuana remains illegal under state law, the amendment is a whole lot better than Philadelphia’s previous law, which punished any marijuana possession with at least a $200 fine, a drug abuse class and an permanent criminal record.

Decriminalization efforts across the country are gaining traction as it becomes increasingly evident that the drug war is failing our society. In particular, marijuana laws and subsequent enforcement of these laws are racially biased.

The ACLU says that 82% of marijuana possession arrests in Philadelphia are blacks while only about 44% percent of Philadelphians are black. Philadelphia’s efforts to eliminate racial disparities through the decriminalization of marijuana should serve as a template to other cities across America. Take a look at the graph below for some of the other American cities that are still incredibly biased in their enforcement of marijuana laws.

racial-disparity-marijuana

Photo Source: Politico.com

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