As Granville Village Council passed legislation last week decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, a group urged council members to pass a resolution urging the Ohio General Assembly to legalize medical marijuana statewide.
Council members on Dec. 3 unanimously approved an ordinance change decriminalizing marijuana possession of under 100 grams, making it consistent with state law.
Village Law Director Michael King explained earlier that Granville’s law covering cultivation of marijuana is currently less stringent than it is for possession. Prior to last week’s vote, someone possessing less than 100 grams faced a third-degree misdemeanor criminal charge, while a cultivating charge for less than 100 grams would have been a minor misdemeanor, the equivalent of a traffic citation.
The approved change makes possession of less than 100 grams a minor misdemeanor and more than 100 grams and less than 200 grams a fourth-degree misdemeanor crime, changing it from a third-degree misdemeanor.
King has cautioned that “decriminalization” is not the same as “legalization.”
King acknowledged that Granville resident Dennis Cauchon pointed out this inconsistency as well as another involving marijuana offenses. Earlier this fall, Cauchon informed village officials that the village code still included a clause that appeared to permit use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Council members later changed the law to match the state’s, which prohibits medical marijuana.
Cauchon and three others were present Dec. 3 to encourage the council to pass a resolution for the General Assembly in support of legalizing medical marijuana. Council members took no action last week on the matter.
“This is the way it’s been done in other states,” Cauchon said, of communities individually endorsing the concept.
“We’ve been a leader on planning and open space,” Cauchon said of Granville. “We’ve been very forward thinking. Just in this little niche it could be beneficial as well.”
King, in answer to a question by Councilwoman Jackie O’Keefe, said the council could legally pass such a resolution.
“It would be something that would have to be taken up statewide,” he said of legalizing medical marijuana.
O’Keefe also asked if marijuana usage causes intoxication, particularly involving drivers.
“The real problem with marijuana and driving is, if you’re an inexperienced driver, and you combine it with alcohol — that’s just plain stupid,” said Robert Ryan, president of the Ohio chapter of National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. “Mixing with alcohol is a recipe for disaster.”
Canlis McDerment of Blacklick, president of the central Ohio NORML chapter and a former Fairfield County deputy for 11 years, added, “In my experience in being a deputy sheriff, not one time did I ever pull anyone over who was intoxicated or driving erratically under the influence of marijuana.”
He also encouraged council to pass a resolution of support for medical marijuana. “Sick people need it. This drug is not in any way as harmful as alcohol,” he said.
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