Dayton could decriminalize marijuana. How that’s different than legalization.

In less than a week, Dayton voters will get a chance to use the ballot box to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Decriminalization is not the same as legalization.

Regardless of how Dayton electors vote, marijuana will still be illegal under state and federal law, and people caught with small amounts of marijuana in the city still could face consequences that really depend on how the city code is enforced.

RELATED: Dayton voters to decide whether to end penalties for marijuana violations

Decriminalization seeks to eliminate financial penalties and possible jail time for certain marijuana offenses.

Legalization would mean people who possess marijuana would face no consequences at all.

Decriminalization in essence means an activity is no longer considered criminal conduct and is treated as a civil infraction, according to the Canna Law Blog, which focuses on marijuana-related issues.

Legalization is lawfully regulating an activity that is no longer considered criminal conduct, the blog states.

The city of Dayton’s proposed steps to decriminalize include amending the city code to eliminate the $150 fine for minor misdemeanor and hashish offenses.

Right now, minor misdemeanor possession offenses involve less than 100 grams of marijuana.

Under city code, possession of between 100 and 200 grams of marijuana is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by fine and up to 30 days in jail. Possession of more than 200 grams of marijuana is a felony under state law.

MORE: Recreational marijuana closer to Ohio ballot — but lots of work ahead 

Dayton’s decriminalization proposal includes classifying the possession of drug paraphernalia used only for marijuana or hashish as a minor misdemeanor offense, subject to no fine.

Also, the city would likely amend the code to classify a gift of 20 grams or less of marijuana as a minor misdemeanor offense. These offenses can result in higher-level misdemeanor charges.

If the November ballot measure passes, the city functionally would remove penalties for people who possess small amounts of marijuana, but laws for trafficking of the drug would still be in effect, officials said.

MORE: Recreational marijuana closer to Ohio ballot — but lots of work ahead

What would the next attorney general do about it?

The two men running for Ohio attorney general this year have widely differing responses to Dayton’s effort to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Democrat Steve Dettelbach, a former federal prosecutor, said: “Most evidence shows that current marijuana laws have disproportionally hurt communities of color. That’s one of the reasons that Ohioans have just decided to change those laws. I respect the right of local authorities and police officers to make decisions about the matters that impact their communities. We should all be listening to those voices more in a statewide discussion about the future of marijuana in Ohio.

“As a career federal prosecutor who has worked to take drugs off the street, I know this is an area where the details matter and a thoughtful approach is critical.”

Republican Dave Yost, a former county prosecutor and current state auditor, said: “A city cannot make legal what the state has made illegal. Does Dayton think it can also legalize prostitution?”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Clark County Pet of the Week
Clark County Pet of the Week

We have a very special Pet of the Week this week. Bernie came to us when her owner suddenly passed. Unfortunately all of her family lives out of state and isn’t able to take her. Bernie is a 7-year-old Burmese mix. She weighs in right now at about 80 pounds and is on a diet, but making progress. Bernie has been very friendly at the shelter, dog...
Champaign County Pet of the Week
Champaign County Pet of the Week

Evelyn is a 5-year-old female Calico domestic short-haired cat. She has been at the shelter for almost three years now and is our adventurer. Evelyn enjoys hanging out in the laundry room. She has a unique voice, too. Evelyn is a good girl and gets along with the other cats. She has been spayed, is up to date on vaccinations and has tested negative...
Multiple-vehicle accident on I-75 South in Dayton slows traffic
Multiple-vehicle accident on I-75 South in Dayton slows traffic

UPDATE @ 11:04 p.m.: All lanes of I-75 South in Dayton are open again. The southbound lanes were closed briefly, about 10 minutes or so, to allow tow trucks to remove vehicles involved in the crash. A multiple-vehicle accident on I-75 South in Dayton, at the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard overpass, is slowing traffic. No one was injured in the accident...
Greene Co. Public Health campaign: Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.
Greene Co. Public Health campaign: Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

Greene County Public Health wants to remind people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday to wear a seat belt. The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to raise awareness for their ‘Buckle Up--Every Trip. Every Time.’ campaign, according to a release. “We...
Detective: Fugitive youth soccer coach uses Uber, eats at Panera in Tennessee
Detective: Fugitive youth soccer coach uses Uber, eats at Panera in Tennessee

Fugitive youth soccer coach Justin K. Smith has been seen in two Tennessee cities, using Uber to get around and eating at popular restaurants, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s detective said. Smith, 41, of Germantown, is the subject of a nationwide search after he fled his sexual assault trial involving a 14-year-old girl he coached. He was absent...
More Stories