Ohio Decriminalizes Marijuana Smoking Paraphernalia


Greg Dewald/Clay Middle School
The new law will fix an imbalance under which possession of marijuana paraphernalia received a stiffer penalty than possession of marijuana itself

Ohio will start treating people who get caught with a marijuana pipe the same way it treats those who get traffic tickets starting this fall, reversing an imbalance that punished possession of marijuana paraphernalia more harshly than possession of marijuana itself.

While the removal of barriers that keep reformed felons from getting jobs was the portion of Senate Bill 337 that got lots of attention when Republican Gov. John R. Kasich signed it — it’s a considered a national model of how to write such a bill — the part that decriminalizes possession of most marijuana paraphernalia isn’t as well known, report M.L. Schultze and Simon Husted of WKSU.

SB 337 lessens the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a minor misdemeanor, along the lines of most traffic tickets and charges like public intoxication.

Ohio State Senator Shirley Smith cosponsored the bill to even the penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia with those for the possession of marijuana itself

The bill was sponsored by state senators Shirley Smith of Cleveland and Bill Seitz of Cincinnati. Both said it fixes an imbalance that most people didn’t know existed in current law.
“You could get caught with paraphernalia that people use for marijuana, and get more time for the paraphernalia than you would for a small amount of marijuana,” Smith explained.
For years, possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana has been a minor misdemeanor under Ohio law. As such, it carries only a small fine, and no possibility of prison. But someone convicted of a fourth-degree misdemeanor — such as the possession of cannabis paraphernalia, until the SB 337 was passed — could spend up to 30 days in jail.
The new law goes into effect statewide on September 23.