Earlier in July, the Columbus City Council voted to drastically reduce the penalties associated with marijuana. While this is good news for Columbus, it also creates some confusion as to the legal status of recreational marijuana in Ohio. You should also be aware that the ordinance applies only to the City of Columbus – being arrested outside the city limits can result in serious penalties.
As Ohio gets closer to decriminalizing marijuana, don’t assume that your marijuana charge is nothing to worry about – you could still face serious consequences. The Columbus marijuana possession lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help you navigate Ohio’s complex marijuana laws. If you’ve been charged with a marijuana offense and need to understand the potential consequences, call us at (614) 500-3836or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your charges.
The main purpose of the new ordinance was to reduce the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession. Under the new ordinance, you may now face the following penalties:
- Possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana: no jail and a fine of $10
- Possession of 100-200 grams of marijuana: no jail and a $25 fine
- Possession of over 200 grams will be treated as a felony under Ohio state law
Under the previous law, possession of marijuana could be charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail.
A conviction under the new law will not be considered a criminal conviction, and therefore not reflected on your criminal record. As a result, a conviction would not affect your ability to find employment, obtain housing, or otherwise limit your future opportunities.
Finally, the ordinance also specifically states that Ohio’s registered medical marijuana patients cannot be convicted of possession.
Other Benefits of the New Ordinance
Another aim of the new ordinance was to help people deal with prior convictions for marijuana offenses. The ordinance provided a $120,000 grant to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to help people with marijuana convictions seal their criminal records. For those who are disadvantaged with prior convictions, this will help improve their opportunities for housing, employment, and other benefits.
What the Ordinance Does Not Address
While the reduced penalties are certainly a step in the right direction, it’s important to recognize the limitations of the Columbus marijuana ordinance. Ultimately, it does not address:
- The distribution or sale of marijuana
- The cultivation of marijuana
- The purchase of marijuana
Presumably, all of these actions are still subject to prosecution under Ohio state law pertaining to marijuana. If convicted, you could face thousands of dollars in fines and years in Ohio state prison.
It’s also important to remember that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and is designated as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that you could be charged with a marijuana offense under federal law and face very harsh consequences.
Facing Marijuana Charges? Contact LHA
Ohio’s marijuana laws remain complex and confusing. You need to understand exactly what you’ve been charged with and whether you are being prosecuted under the ordinance or state law – the differences can be significant and carry harsh consequences. The Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help understand your options and get a fair result.