Those found in possession of marijuana paraphernalia — including pipes or bongs — might no longer face serious criminal punishment.
That’s after a new state measure Senate Bill 337 — among other things — changed the law from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a minor misdemeanor.
On Monday night, city council introduced a change to the city ordinance that would reflect the new law.
“This is merely to bring our ordinances in conformity with state code,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler. “We’ve not asked Council to look at any other changes to the marijuana-paraphernalia ordinance, and I don’t expect any additional change.”
The measure was referred to council’s Oct. 15 public safety committee for further discussion.
“Because our ordinances cannot impose a harsher penalty than those allowed by state code, this ordinance would amend our code to follow suit,” Butler said.
According to a memo from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, the new law “only relates to use or possession to use” marijuana paraphernalia.
A minor misdemeanor means that an offender would face a citation, rather than an arrest that comes with a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Also, minor misdemeanors typically don’t mean jail time for offenders. Those convicted of a fourth-degree misdemeanor face as much as 30 days in jail.
“I have no insight as to why the General Assembly changed the state code,” said Butler.
“I am aware that generally, the state legislature has been trying to reduce the statewide jail population; lowering any offense to a minor misdemeanor would serve that goal, because judges may not impose jail time for minor misdemeanors.”