GALLIPOLIS — With the recent Nov. 3 election, it one may think the efforts to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Ohio have ceased.
Another initiative has started and it’s referred to as “Legalize Ohio” in the attempts of gathering names on a petition to bring about another amendment legalizing the drug’s use.
According to the initiative’s website, legalizeohio2016.org, the movement is a coalition of doctors, educators, parents and other professionals “united in the belief that cannabis for personal, medical and industrial use should no longer be treated as a crime.”
Should the initiative ever come to be voted upon, advocates of the project say that individuals should be 21 years or older to possess or use marijuana. Adults would supposedly be able to possess up to 100 grams of the substance, 500 grams of marijuana-infused solids, two liters of marijuana-infused liquids and 25 grams of concentrates. Supposedly, adults would be able to possess up to any amount in their homes, if the plants are cultivated and grown there.
The proposed initiative also would make it legal for the use of medical marijuana programs, should the issue come to be voted upon and passed.
“Whatever happens, I’m going to enforce what the people pass and what the courts decide,” said Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins. “I’m not sure what caused (Issue Three) to lose, if it was legalization of marijuana or it was the monopoly part where just a few people were going to get rich. I don’t know that it’s going to stop people that grow marijuana anyway. People are kind of set in their ways.”
According to Adkins, his office rarely sees marijuana drug issues. His office mostly deals with heroin, methamphetamine and other similar drug violations.
According to information gathered from the Gallia County Board of Elections, Issue Three was voted down by county voters — 5,824 voters voted no while 2,149 voted yes. Nearly 75 percent of those that voted felt passage of the amendment was a bad idea.
“The only time marijuana (violations) are considered a felony is if someone has a large amount,” Adkins said. “Over 200 grams is considered a fifth-degree felony.”
According to Adkins, up to 100 grams in an individual’s possession can lead to minor misdemeanor charges and a fine, as well as court costs.
“Probably in the last 10 years, I would bet that we wouldn’t have 10 pot cases,” Adkins said. “It’s hard to catch people cultivating pot. You almost have to catch them with the (watering) hose in their hand.”
Adkins said a lot of times individuals did not know that someone was illegally trespassing onto their land and growing weed. Adkins said marijuana cases were more commonly found in Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam Salisbury’s practice.
According to Gallipolis Municipal Judge Margaret Evans, even if a state law legalizes marijuana use, it would come into contention with current federal statues that find marijuana use illegal. She said an individual currently caught with marijuana or paraphernalia in a vehicle could potentially face a six-month license suspension and a $150 fine for possessing 100 grams of marijuana or less. She also said that according to the municipal court’s data, it regarded marijuana as a gateway drug for heroin users.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.