Petition seeks to zero local pot penalties

By Jason Hawk -

Taking the teeth out of marijuana-related convictions is the goal of one Amherst resident.

John Horn has submitted a draft titled the “Sensible Marijuana Ordinance” to the Amherst auditor’s office in hopes of seeing it placed on the ballot as early as May 2019.

Now he is collecting the 394 signatures required by the Lorain County Board of Elections to place an issue before voters.

Horn isn’t seeking to decriminalize pot, but rather to eliminate related fines for misdemeanor convictions stemming from incidents within the city of Amherst.

If successful, the effort would remove the penalties for possession and use of marijuana under 200 grams, cultivation under 200 grams, and sale or gift of less than 20 grams of pot. It would also erase court costs for minor misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

The Sensible Marijuana Ordinance would not affect felony convictions, nor would it have affect on any pot-related convictions outside the city limits.

And as always, marijuana growth, possession, use, and sales remain illegal under federal law, even where it has been legalized at the state level. At the moment, federal prosecutors are choosing not to pursue action in states where medical and recreational marijuana use has been legalized by popular vote.

“In my view, no one should ever be charged for a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. It’s not a benefit to anyone,” Horn said in a phone interview.

He said he’s had friends who have done time for minor pot offenses. He’s also helped run statewide ballot initiatives, including for Legalize Ohio, though they were unsuccessful.

In general, mothers are the hardest group to convince when arguing for marijuana law reform, Horn said. Conversely, veterans have been very receptive, especially those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, who of several qualifying conditions under Ohio’s new medical marijuana laws.

Horn said he’s petitioned Amherst city council members behind the scenes for years to discuss a policy similar to the Sensible Marijuana Ordinance he is proposing. None have been willing to champion it.

If you want to sign a petition to put the issue on the ballot, visit Rainbow Daydream Smokeshop, 7511 Leavitt Rd., Amherst Township.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk