Sensible Logan Decriminalization Organization Pleased with Election Day Result

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LOGAN, Ohio — Logan will regulate marijuana punishments differently after the results of Tuesday’s election.

The Sensible Marijuana Ordinance passed with a majority of voters approving the measure making possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana a minor misdemeanor, while anything more is an automatic felony.

Don Keeney, one of the Sensible Logan Decriminalization organization’s leaders, said he was a bit surprised with how the issue performed this year after it failed on its first try last year.

“We pulled over 58 percent of the vote,” he said. “After last year, we only pulled 43. It was quite a shift.”

The unofficial results from Logan indicate 1,656 people voted for the ordinance, while 1,176 voted against. In the 2015 General Election, only 883 voted for and 1145 voted against.

Keeney credits a couple of factors with helping push the ordinance over the top on its second attempt.

“The Presidential race bringing out more voters,” he said. “And two, we got out in the community for the second year.”

The effort was a low-budget affair when compared to major campaigns. Keeney said they spent $400 on campaign materials such as signs and pamphlets. Volunteers went door-to-door for months to initially get the signatures to put the issue on the ballot and then to inform the voters of what passing the measure would mean.

The ordinance changes the municipal code of Logan so that if anyone is caught with less than 200 grams they “shall not be fined and no incarceration, probation, nor any other punitive or rehabilitative measure shall be imposed.”

If caught with more than 200 grams, the individual can be charged with a fifth degree felony drug abuse offense. But that individual again “shall not be fined and no incarceration, probation, nor any other punitive or rehabilitative measure shall be imposed.”

Violations will ultimately be a mark on one’s record, but no sentence would be handed down.

Provisions of the ordinance will only apply to violations committed within Logan city limits.

The name for the ordinance was shared with similar ordinances attempted in other Ohio municipalities.

“We want to try to show a sign of unity,” he said. “Even though we’re all individual cities separate from each other, we still share a common bond.”

Toledo passed a similar measure last year, while Newark, Roseville and Bellaire passed their ordinances Tuesday.

Portions of the ordinance in Toledo were challenged in court, but Logan’s ordinance was crafted with it’s home rule status in mind.

“You can’t change the wording of the law, but (home rule municipalities) do have the right to change the penalty up or down,” Keeney said. “We chose to just eliminate the penalties to zero.”

On a personal level, Keeney has dedicated decades to the reformation of how drug policies deal with marijuana, several to the ordinance.

He says Election Day was a bit of affirmation.

“It was a great feeling. When you really work hard at something, you put your heart, your passion into it. It’s truly great reward to see you reap the harvest that you have sown.”

Also serving as the president of NORML’s southeast Ohio chapter, Keeney said he will continue to look for ways to bring about change in his area.