Cincinnati Enquirer, OH
Starting today, getting caught with a little pot could mean a little jail time - for at least the next year.
Cincinnati City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee adopted a tougher marijuana ordinance Tuesday - over the objections of a dozen citizens who testified at the hearing.
The full council will consider the ordinance today - but a majority, five members, has already voted in support of it.
The ordinance would increase the penalty for possessing less than 100 grams of marijuana - even a single joint - from a written citation and a $100 fine to arrest and a possible 30 days in jail.
Councilman Cecil Thomas promoted the ordinance, saying it would be a way to get guns off the streets and make neighborhoods safer because it would give officers broader powers to search people or vehicles. Committee members were lukewarm on the idea, until a compromise one-year sunset clause was added - meaning the law would expire after a year unless renewed by council.
"The most important aspect of this is it gives officers an additional tool for search and seizure," Thomas said Tuesday.
Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell was the only committee member to vote "no."
"This will not change anything appreciably," Tarbell said. "This is a class issue. The people caught and prosecuted will be low-income African-Americans. I think this sends the wrong message to police."