Columbus City Council last night hosted a public forum on legislation that would lower the penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana and related paraphernalia.
Under the proposal, someone caught with less than 100 grams would be charged with a minor misdemeanor and fined no more than 10 dollars. If it's more than 100 grams but less than 200, the fine would not exceed 25 dollars. Offenders would also not have to report a violation of these offenses as a criminal record with potential employers and professional licensing boards. Council member Shayla Favor explained the primary reason for the changes.
Most of the 16 speakers at the hearing supported the measure, although Barbara Clark advocated for an additional component.
Three speakers advocated for a "no fine, no jail time" ordinance on the books in some cities. But Columbus' legal counselquestioned whether such a measure could withstand a court challenge. Council plans to vote on the proposal at Monday's meeting.