City votes to decriminalize marijuana but it’s still a crime

NEWARK, Ohio (AP) — Officials in a central Ohio city where residents voted to eliminate criminal penalties for having small amounts of marijuana say they’ll continue to charge and prosecute violators under state law instead.

This month, Newark voters approved decriminalizing possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana, about 7 ounces. The new law says having that amount is a minor misdemeanor that’s not subject to fines, jail or probation.

But under Ohio law, such marijuana possession remains a minor misdemeanor that could result in a fine and loss of driving privileges.

Newark’s law director says the local law gives authorities an option in pursuing such cases, but they’re not changing their approach.

Supporters of the new law had argued it would allow police to concentrate on the city’s heroin and opiate problem. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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