The pungent smell of burning marijuana filled the air on Court Street Saturday evening as local pot users and activists gathered to celebrate the passage of The Athens Cannabis Ordinance (TACO for short).
The event, dubbed TACOfest 2018: Party for Community Rights, took place on the sidewalk in front of the Athens County Courthouse. Musicians with stringed instruments set the tone, and folks with smiling faces passed a number of perfectly rolled “blunts” (some quite large) around the group.
“Based on a 2015 ordinance from Toledo, TACO was proposed by citizen initiative petition and approved by voters at the Nov. 7, 2017 election with a 78 percent Yes vote,” according to handouts from the event. TACO lowered the penalty for all misdemeanor marijuana offenses in the city of Athens to a zero fine and zero court costs. According to the handouts, the local cannabis ordinance covers:
• Possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana flowers
• Possession of up to 10 grams of hashish
• Possession or sale of marijuana or hash paraphernalia
• Cultivation of up to 200g of marijuana
• Gifts of up to 20 grams of marijuana
Based on the annual “hash bash” in Ann Arbor, Michigan (which decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s), TACOfest provided a space for legal-weed supporters to come together and chill.
Caleb Brown, one of the main organizers of the event, called it a success. “We just wanted to hang out,” Brown said, explaining that the event “wasn’t really planned” but came together nicely anyways. “We were able to raise awareness” for TACO and for the statewide petition for full legalization as well.
Representatives from Grassroots Ohio and