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Ohio law decriminalizes most marijuana paraphernalia
Old law made it a bigger crime to have a roach or pipe than to have small amounts of marijuana

Shirley Smith of Cleveland cosponsored the bill to even the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and the paraphernalia associated with it.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect date for the law taking effect. It will be Sept. 28th.

By early fall, Ohio law will start treating people caught with a marijuana pipe the same way it treats those who get most traffic tickets. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports on a little-known aspect of current and coming law.

SMITH on the imbalance

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Senate Bill 337got lots of attention when Gov. Kasich signed last week. In fact, it’s considered a model nationally on how to remove barriers that keep reformed felons getting jobs.

But getting a lot less attention is the part of the bill that decriminalizes possession of most marijuana paraphernalia. It lessens that from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a minor misdemeanor -- along the lines of most traffic tickets and charges like public intoxication.

The bill was sponsored by state senators Shirley Smith of Cleveland and Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, both of whom say it evens out an incongruity that most people don’t know exists in current law.  Sen. Smith:

 “You could get caught with paraphernalia that people use for marijuana, and get more time for the paraphernalia than you would for a small amount of marijuana.”

 That’s because Ohio law has said for years that possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a minor misdemeanor, which carries no possibility of prison time and a small fine. Someone convicted of a fourth-degree misdemeanor could spend up to 30 days in jail.

The bill goes into effect Sept. 28. 


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