Cannabis laws in Columbus, Ohio have taken another step in a progressive direction. After some key changes earlier this summer at both the city and state level, the city has now decided to stop prosecuting all misdemeanor marijuana charges. As a result, possession of small amounts of cannabis will not lead to criminal charges.
Changes to Cannabis Prosecution in Columbus
Earlier today, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced the change. According to local news source WBNS, the city’s new approach to marijuana will include two big changes.
First, the city will no longer prosecute misdemeanor cannabis charges.
The second big change is closely related to the first. Specifically, the city is also dropping misdemeanor marijuana cases that are currently pending.
Ohio’s Changing Marijuana Laws
In many ways, today’s decision in Columbus is simply the newest chapter in Ohio’s ongoing evolution of marijuana laws. In fact, this summer has already seen a couple other potentially big changes to weed laws, both in the city of Columbus and in the state of Ohio.
Earlier this summer, on July 22, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution to reduce penalties for getting caught with weed. Now, possession of up to 200 grams does not lead to jail time. Instead, people who are caught with less than 100 grams of weed may be fined $10. And people who are caught possessing between 100 grams and 200 grams could pay a fine of $25.
But these aren’t the only weed-related changes to hit Columbus recently. There have also been changes at the state level.
Most notably, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill to legalize hemp on July 30. This bill, Senate Bill 57, makes it legal to grow industrial hemp. It also makes it legal to manufacture and sell CBD products that are derived from industrial hemp plants.
As with hemp and CBD laws in other states, the key to Senate Bill 57 is the amount of THC present in a product. Specifically, to be considered legal, a hemp plant must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. As long as it meets that requirement, it is fully legal in Ohio to grow hemp plants and to use those plants to make CBD products.
Responding to New State Laws
Interestingly, this new state law played a big role in Columbus’s decision to stop prosecuting low level weed charges. As reported by WBNS, City Attorney Zach Klein said that bill prompted his decision today.
From the sounds of things, a big part of his decision has to do with the difficulty of detecting exactly how much THC is present in any given product. Notably, standard law enforcement tools are built to detect the mere presence of THC, not the specific amount of THC.
As a result, it is very hard to tell if a CBD product has too much THC. Simply put, authorities cannot tell if a product containing CBD is legal or not. So, rather than get bogged down in this uncertainty, the city of Columbus will no longer go after any sort of low level marijuana offense.