CLEVELAND — Cleveland is following in the footsteps of a handful of other Ohio cities who have already reduced the penalties for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.
The Cleveland City Council is considering the new ordinance which would remove any fine or prison time for having has less than 200 grams of marijuana.
The ACLU says not many people are being put in jail for small marijuana charges, but even small fines that someone just can't pay can turn into a warrant for their arrest, creating more problems. That's why council member Blane Griffin says this will be a more just application of the laws.
“The whole goal of this is to try to keep people out of the system, to try to promote equity and fairness, because quite frankly, when we started out, African-Americans are four times more likely to receive penalties than white counterparts,” Griffin said. “So a lot of this is to try to eliminate the disparities as well.”
Griffin said that sealing the records for previous marijuana offenses is not part of this ordinance right now, but other members of the city council are interested in discussing it while the ordinance goes through the legislative process.