Ohio NORML Continues the Fight on the Local Level

Cannabis PenaltiesStatewide marijuana legalization efforts in Ohio have proven to be more difficult than many expected. After Ohio voters overwhelming rejected Issue 3 – a well-funded ballot initiative, that would have legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over, but also contained severe restrictions with regard to retail production of the plant – many advocates promised to return with a better plan for marijuana consumers. But those plans were quickly derailed after the Ohio General Assembly established a limited, yet workable medical marijuana program with the passage of House Bill 523.

With no statewide initiative, many activists decided to shift their focus to working with state lawmakers to strengthen HB 523 by expanding access and advocating for amendments to permit for home cultivation for patients and caregivers. And since the possession of less than 100 grams (roughly 3.5 ounces) of marijuana is considered a “minor misdemeanor,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150 plus $100 in court costs, some activists found themselves complacent with the status quo. After considering these points, members of Ohio Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) decided to explore reform options on the local level.

Taking a page out of their own playbook, Eleanor Ahrens and Chad Thompson, led by executive director Cher Neufer, decided they would retool a local decriminalization measure that was approved by Toledo voters in 2015. With this strategy the group set their sights on several municipalities across the state. Activists in the municipalities of Newark Bellaire, Bellevue, Cleveland, Elyria, Logan, Huron, Athens and Norwood, as well as in Lucas County, started to collect signatures for a “complete decriminalization” measure that would further decriminalize the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana flower, up to 10 grams of concentrates, paraphernalia, by removing all fines and court costs.

“Complete Decrim is a new innovative way to make any misdemeanor offense basically legal,” Neufer said. “With no fines, no jail time, no drivers license suspension, and no court costs, we are making the police just walk away from misdemeanor marijuana offenses as if it were a legal substance.”

To date, the group has successfully qualified the measure for the municipal ballot in the cities of Newark and Logan this November, but fell short in the city of Athens. Activists with Ohio NORML plan to continue their effort. An effort that could extend well into 2017. For more information about or to get involved with Ohio NORML, please email info@ohionorml.org today!

20 thoughts

  1. They leave the law in place so they can change it immediately if they so choose, or choose to use it in another way to muddy the water. We should not allow them to do this, ever. Its BS at best.
    Stop the hedge and legalize it and then get out of or lives.

    1. And the rest of Ohio for that matter – 88 counties left not-so-high and dry when MPP backed out. The medical law is in total disarray from what I gather.

      I can’t see this mess being resolved until Dewine and Husted (at least) are gone – they’ve been pushing their own “morality” based agendas from day one.

  2. I left Ohio after college. I should have a much longer post on this article soon, but was actively involved last year. We have a NORML chapter in my home city of Toledo, I am now right over the border in MI where efforts also have failed. Much more later, but it is a disaster in the Midwest for legalization. I hope to move west to more progressive states soon, but Ohio and Michigan need so much help it is not even funny. I have so much I could say on this subject, frankly, the post would be exhaustingly long. But I hope to be back later with a more concise post that expresses my deep frustration and all the points I could make in a single condensed post. I have so much I could say on this subject it is not even funny…..for now, efforts at legalization including Issue 3 out here, in part due to successful opposition by Republicans have been a disaster thus far. Near total and complete disaster. Thank you, back later.

    1. oh…but before I go, thanks to NORML for acknowledging us out here, that is, acknowledging specifically Ohio and Toledo. We need a massive effort out here in the Midwest, and, as I said, hopefully when more states legalize perhaps they might consider helping us out out here funding-wise. Back later, there is too much I could go on and on about in a post, it would be an inappropriate length here perhaps, but I again will be back later when I am ready to post more of my feelings on this as I have grown up in MI and Ohio most all my life and paid great attention last year to Issue 3, etc. More soon. M

  3. The primary attack point is now Congress, as Keith explained in a previous blog (not to diminish the importance of local reforms.)

    Make the bastards pay politically!

    Here’s a summary of NORML’s Congressional Scorecard for Ohio, listed here for convenient reference. It’s kinda grim. A good showing for the women, though — a “C” or better for all three women, two of whom are black. Excellent, ladies. White men, we gotta do better, mmm-kay?

    Ohio Scorecard:
    Sherrod Brown (D): “D”
    Rob Portman (R): “F”

    Steve Chabot (R): “F”
    Brad Wenstrup (R): “D”
    Joyce Beatty (D): “C”
    Jim Jordan (R): “D”
    Bob Latta (R): “D”
    Bill Johnson (R): “D”
    Bob Gibbs (R): “F”
    John Boehner (R): ? (absent)
    Marcy Kaptur (D): “B”
    Mike Turner (R): “D”
    Marcia Fudge (D): “B”
    Pat Tiberi (R): “D”
    Tim Ryan (D): “B”
    David Joyce (R): “B”
    Steve Stivers (R): “C”
    Jim Renacci (R): “D”

    For details, go to:

  4. I would like to remind folks that there is a statewide initiative, GRASSROOTS OHIOANS, the Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Amendment. I think a nod should be given to each city that has worked so hard to make their decrim possible. Not all of the decries were written by the same people not was NORML behind the push for each city. Give credit where credit is do, please.

    1. I don’t understand why a plant that’s “possibly harmless yet deemed a “drug” exists in your body even if you never supplemented with the plant. Do we need to wait for “science and studies” to deem it safe when evidence shows no one ever dying from using the plant. If a person can use the plant with full intentions to treat themselves and know in as little as 3 months know if treatment is working and if not you can try again without any harm to you. Say the same about chemotherapy and Radiation.
      Im tired of hearing about whose pocket needs lined BEFORE we can allow people to use a harmless yet effective treatment that’s all natural. Its a plant people.

  5. Canada is legalizing in 2017. All the states close to Canada, not just bordering on Canada, that have not legalized adult recreational (or medical marijuana) are predictably going to see US dollars leaving the country and spent in Canada on cannabis. If you want to keep that money at home in the state and not have it go abroad or to a US state that has legalized, you have to legalize, too.

  6. Though things don’t always work out perfectly it;s nice to know we have some people fighting for us! It’s just a matter of time until it’s legal everywhere.

  7. MEMES – Someone put a graphic together with all the opposition, and those for legalization/MMJ and get ’em up on social media. –Get Creative!–

    The people will bring the change, sadly if it’s not on the book of faces people just don’t read much anymore.

    1. Creative graphics someone might try:
      a. Bob Marley (or other choice demonstrator) showing how to operate a singlestem flexdrawtube oneheater– hands holding device with tilted crater about a foot out in front of face and lighterflame-top 2 inches below it, with arrows pointing up toward crater and “197C/385F” written alongside.
      b. Doublestem oneheater, Anne Frank (eyes on the crater) with lighter serving vapetoke to Marley, or Theresa May, or Merkel, or Ayn Rand, Jesus or the Prophet, even Trump etc. Keep Ayn Rand’s eyes pointing weirdly up like in famous photos, other receivers stare endorsingly into eye of the beholder. Or maybe Minnie Mouse serving, but they won’t allow that on Wikimedia Commons?

  8. Stay strong and positive Ohio. Lets learn from our mistakes and continue the fight into every city hall and every state Congressman’s office.
    Use their Congressional score to make persuasive, face to face arguments and agreements.
    Every activist and marijuana legalization lobbyist should pay close attention to whats happening in Ohio. Confusing multiple ballots, poison amendments, court prosecutions and closed door deals… Ohio legislature is deep in it. Hold your brearh and plow through Marijuana Regulators, its gonna get deeper before we get to the other side… But its going to be so sweet and clean in those hemp fields over there… Go to your state capitol… And you better bring a shovel and some wading-pants.

  9. didn’t i see somewhere that the vote to legalize really passed? why not a recount? as i notice from the grades of the replubicans in the grading scale didn’t fair well! what they pulled a fast one on us like bush and gore?

  10. It is so upsetting that this country allows it’s citizens to leagally purchase and use tobacco,alcohal& prescription drugs knowing that this stuff kills.But not allowing marijuana- what does it do to people?- is so backwards & wrong! I am 60 years old. I’ve been using since the age of 10. Never used cocain, didn’t take up alcohol and always thought that taking pills was totally out of the question and unnatural. Am I an exception? Was there a case study done to see what 50 years of smoking marijuana does to people? Maybe NORMAL can take up a case study like this. And by the way, I stopped smoking ciggaretts before I got out high school in 1974. If the government is destroying marijuana plants,they are destroying medicine, and maybe should be prosecuted.

  11. Well according to my Dr office ..they spoke to the east Liverpool city ohio police department . and according to them ..a “doctors recommendation” is still illegal in east Liverpool Ohio because acceptable medical quantity hasn’t yet been specified ..and thus this law does not work in columbiana county Ohio.. not even for a recommendation

  12. Corruption is so firmly embedded in this rustbelt states “legal culture” …that only some bad people leaving office will change the prohibitionist holdout problems we are faced with

  13. Has it occurred to any of you democrats that because you are considered “pot heads and ” drug users” ..you all are probably in Hillary’s . “basket of deplorables” . right next to the actual drug addicts . .that’s how Ohio sees the casual marijuana user . and what are they paying your moderator for info suppression …he is helping keep marijuana illegal by hiding fact ..

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