Elections Board Will Act Monday On Norwood Ballot Issue To Decriminalize Marijuana

Aug 16, 2016

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A group that wants Norwood voters to decriminalize marijuana will have to argue its case Monday before the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

The group Sensible Norwood filed petitions last month to put the issue on the November ballot.

But at a meeting Tuesday, the elections board's lawyer, Dave Stevenson, said the ballot issue is not legal and should be rejected.

Stevenson argued that initiative petitions may only contain questions which a city is authorized to control by legislative action. The initiative creates felony crimes, which he said Ohio cities have no authority to do.

The ballot issue would prohibit police from reporting possession and sale of marijuana to any authority except the city attorney and prevents the city attorney from referring any reports for prosecution. But, even if passed, Stevenson said people could still be prosecuted under state or federal law.

On their Facebook page, Sensible Norwood supporters says Ohio is "unique in that citizens have the right to change the law when elected officials fail to act."

"This is not legalization of marijuana, but the next best thing,'' the Sensible Norwood Facebook page said. "This will remove all fines, penalties, jail time, drivers' license suspensions and more."

The elections board invited members of Sensible Norwood to come to a special board meeting next Monday morning to explain why they believe their ballot issue is legal.

Board Chairman Tim Burke said members of the group were advised at Tuesday's meeting that they could have legal representative at next Monday's meeting.

"We will listen to what they have to say; and then the board will vote on whether or not this belongs on the ballot,'' Burke said.