Cleveland City Council could vote to remove penalties for having less than 200 grams of marijuana

Posted at 6:42 AM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 18:20:56-05

CLEVELAND — If Cleveland's Finance Committee and full City Council vote in favor, the city could remove all penalties for possessing less than 200 grams of marijuana within the city.

It's been a chance that city Council member Blaine Griffin has been pushing for since the summer. He introduced a bill that would remove any penalties for someone who has less than 200 grams of marijuana.

Right now, that charge could carry up to $250 in fines and even up to 30 days in jail.

Councilmember Griffin says removing those penalties make the justice system more equal, since black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rate but black people are much more likely to get arrested for it.

Cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, and a handful of other communities have already made the change.

"This is sensible marijuana policy," said Griffin, after the Safety Committee passed the change January 15. "We're not looking at this from a 70s lens anymore."

Cleveland police

Police Chief Calvin Williams asked for enough time for the Police Department to finalize new policies and train officers under the amended ordinance.

Lawyers tell News 5 that even if there aren't any penalties associated with marijuana possession, it can still be the reason an officer searches someone's car or property, and citizens can still get in trouble if officers find anything else that could lead to charges.

RELATED: Cleveland Safety Committee votes to remove penalties for 200 grams or less of marijuana