The City Councils of Cleveland, Ohio, and Austin, Texas, have removed the threat of arrest and jail time for personal cannabis use.
In the case of Cleveland, whose City Hall is depicted in this image, personal amounts are considered to be up to 200 grams — about seven ounces — of flowers.
By way of comparison, California legalized one ounce outright, protects up to eight ounces as a presumptive medical use amount and allows qualified patients legal immunity for any reasonable amount.
Cleveland covers first 200 grams
Members of the Cleveland City Council approved municipal legislation in January 2020 depenalizing marijuana possession offenses. The measure now awaits final approval from the city’s mayor.
Under the proposal, activities involving the possession of up to 200 grams of cannabis will no longer be punishable by either an arrest, a fine, or a criminal record. Marijuana will still be defined as contraband and will be confiscated by local law enforcement.
The measure is similar to those approved in several other Ohio cities, including Athens and Columbus, which also reduce or eliminate municipal penalties for the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana.
Under state law, the possession of marijuana in amounts above 100 grams but below 200 grams is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
Austin cites costs, racial disparity
Members of the Austin City Council in January also unanimously approved a resolution which forbids city officials from spending funds for the purpose of prosecuting low-level marijuana possession offenses.
The sponsor of the resolution called the measure necessary in order to reprioritize limited police resources and to arrest the racial disproportionality in marijuana arrests.
Texas NORML Executive Director Jax Finkel praised the change in municipal policy. “Austin officials should be doing the absolute most they can within their discretion to prevent these arrests,” she said. “This resolution prevents taxpayers’ funds from being wasted on enforcing this failed policy and refocuses monies where they belong, protecting our city from violent and property crimes.”
The local ordinance also applies to activities involving the personal possession of cannabis concentrates, edibles, or vapor cartridges.
Under state law, low-level marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and a criminal record. Annually, Texas police make over 60,000 marijuana possession arrests – one of the highest totals in the nation.