City Council will consider two plans Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana in Cincinnati, but those plans differ wildly on how much pot should be allowed.
On one side, council members Christopher Smitherman and Jeff Pastor want the city to permit the possession of up to 100 grams, or roughly 3.5 ounces, of marijuana.
On the other, Councilman David Mann wants to cap possession at 32 grams.
A council majority has been moving toward decriminalization for weeks now, so the big question is how permissive the law should be.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters warned council in May that allowing 100 grams or less would be excessive for personal use and would make it harder for police and prosecutors to prove drug trafficking charges.
Mann agreed with that assessment, noting that 100 grams is enough marijuana to make more than 300 joints.
More than 50 communities in a dozen states have ended prosecution or enacted municipal laws decriminalizing minor marijuana violations. Dayton, Toledo and Norwood are among those to have done so in Ohio.
Most of the amounts decriminalized around the country are in the range Cincinnati now is considering, somewhere between 10 and 100 grams. Under Ohio law, possession of 100 grams or less is a minor misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine.
The law Smitherman and Pastor have proposed would give police the option of citing people under state law or the new city law. If they choose the city law, offenders would get a ticket that carries no fine and creates no criminal record.
Smitherman, an independent who is running for mayor in 2021, has said it’s unfair for citizens to be charged and potentially locked up for minor violations when big companies now are benefiting from producing marijuana legally for medical purposes or, in some states, for recreational use.