When charged with drug possession in Ohio, people can be confronted with substantial penalties, many of which will cause significant problems in their lives for an extended period. This is understandable for those who are dealing with felony charges for drug trafficking and drug dealing. For people who have a small amount of a drug that is increasingly being viewed as innocuous, like marijuana, the penalties frequently are viewed as unfair.
A Cleveland City Council member has introduced a proposal that will alter the way people arrested for drug possession with small amounts of marijuana are treated by the legal system. He suggests that those caught with small amounts will no longer face jail nor any other penalties. Currently, people who are charged for marijuana in the city will face state charges and be fined for various amounts depending on how much marijuana they had. For less than 100 grams, it is $150. For 100 to 200 grams, it is $250 and a jail sentence of 30 days.
Another concern is the racial demographics of enforcement. Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, but black people have around four times greater chance of being arrested. A State Representative says she has discussed the situation with professionals, and they say there is a difference in the people who get arrested and punished.
With the suggestion that violators be treated more leniently, judges and prosecutors are taking the cue that marijuana in small amounts should not be penalized as harshly. Fines have reduced in other areas, like Columbus.
One concern with the fines is that they can be difficult for people to pay even if they are not significant amounts of money. This can lead to a warrant and exponential problems for something that should be minor. The proposed changes to how offenders are handled by the legal system will be beneficial. Still, when there is an arrest for drug possession, it is essential to know that these changes are not official and there can still be penalties for marijuana even if it is a small amount.