a marijuana leaf

Logan Marijuana Decriminalization Heads to the Ballot

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Residents of the city of Logan will have a familiar choice to make this November, on whether to decriminalize marijuana within the city limits.

The group Sensible Logan has again gained the amount of signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot, according to Don Keeney, who leads the group.

The Hocking County Board of Elections confirmed that the signatures were valid. They are now awaiting official ballot wording from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, according to an official with the board of elections.

This is the second time that Sensible Logan has attempted an ordinance of this kind. Last year, the ordinance was defeated with only 43 percent of the voters in favor of it. But the leaders of the group say they believe this time around, they have an advantage.

“This is the second time through, and we’ve been able to get to know the people,” Keeney said, adding that some signatures were collected at local festivals.

The proposed ordinance would repeal sections of the municipal code that makes marijuana a part of the trafficking in controlled substances, drug possession, permitting drug abuse, illegal dispensing of drug samples and drug paraphernalia criminal charges. It would also remove sections on prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana, and current mandatory fines in the law.

Under the new law, if approved, marijuana possession of less than 200 grams would still be considered a minor misdemeanor, but with no fines or prison time attached to the charge. Any possession exceeding 200 grams would be a fifth-degree felony offense, but without fines or imprisonment for the offense.

The proposed law enacts similar language for hashish, another product that comes from the cannabis plant.

Currently, the law states that someone convicted of possessing 200 grams or less of marijuana faces a maximum $150 fine and could have their drivers license suspended.

The confusion of statewide Issue 2 and Issue 3 could have had an effect on the Logan vote, according to Keeney, but with a presidential race potentially bringing out more voters this year and with less issues on the ballot, he is optimistic.

He’s also not worried about a potential conflict the change in city law could have with state and federal laws that still prohibit marijuana possession.

“We have left the law as written, except that (the court) can’t fine you,” Keeney said. “It’s a mark on your record, but there’s no sentence.”