Recreational Pot Vote Makes Athens County Most Lenient in Ohio

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ATHENS, Ohio — Athens County is the most depenalized county in the state now that the cities of Glouster, Trimble and Jacksonville all voted to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana in their respective municipalities.

These communities follow the lead of Athens and Nelsonville, where similar bills passed in the last few years.

Uptown Athens

November’s vote will decrease penalties for misdemeanor marijuana offenses, resulting in fewer people in jail and the reduction or elimination of fines. The bill applies to those charged with possessing up to 200 grams of marijuana,  10 grams of hash or the sale and possession of connected paraphernalia.

In addition to its impact on the law, Don Keeney, the executive director of National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws Appalachia of Ohio said it will also de-stigmatize the use of marijuana.

“Most of us are left in the stigma, you know, the ‘stoner couch potato,'” he said. “Most people that do this are very productive citizens, high knowledge, you know, good tax payers.”

Law enforcement has already deemphasized pot arrests according to The Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith who said the approach is evidenced by training the department’s K9, Attila, not to alert on the scent of marijuana.

“Right now, we stopped training the scent of marijuana because now hemp is legal,” he said. “There’s really no difference between hemp and marijuana other than their THC levels, so once they made hemp legal we stopped training our dogs to indicate hemp or marijuana.”