Sensible Vermilion Ordinance Would Eliminate Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Petitioners in Vermilion are collecting signatures from residents to get a “No Fine No Time” marijuana ordinance on the ballot. The Sensible Marijuana Ordinance would change the city code to reduce the penalties for misdemeanor marijuana possession to zero. While state law bans marijuana possession, cities have the right to change the penalties.

The Sensible Marijuana Ordinance proponents state the revised ordinance, eliminating penalties, would free up law enforcement and judicial resources for more important things than prosecuting individuals for marijuana possession.

The Sensible Vermilion Ordinance would work through “decriminalization”, removing penalties for certain behaviors. While possession of marijuana would still technically be a crime, the ability to impose punishment would be removed. A person's cannabis could be confiscated, but they would not be fined or threatened with incarceration. Decriminalization is different from legalization, which would require a change in state and federal laws.

Numerous other Ohio cities have passed similar “No Fine No Time” ballot measures. Ohio state law makes possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana a minor misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine. Possession of 100 to 200 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250. Possession of more than 200 grams of marijuana in Ohio is a felony.

According to the Sensible Movement Coalition, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that local ordinances should be followed unless they conflict with state law. In this case, the ordinances do not conflict with state law since they do not maintain that marijuana is legal, they merely address the penalties. 

Advocates of revising the local city ordinance will need approximately 470 valid signatures from registered voters that reside in the City of Vermilion to get the marijuana ordinance on the ballot. Proponents state the successful medical marijuana ballot issue in Ohio clearly demonstrates Ohioans want marijuana reform.