Yellow Springs Decriminalizes Marijuana

Yellow Springs Decriminalizes Minor Marijuana Offenses


Photo Credit: Baylor College of Medicine

Leo Nicholson, Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, September 10, the village council of Yellow Springs unanimously voted to decriminalize minor marijuana offenses. This new law will be put in place on October 30, 2020. 

According to the amendment of Chapter 624 of the Yellow Springs Code of Ordinances, individuals possessing or cultivating less than 100 grams of marijuana will be charged with a civil infraction and subject to a fine of up to $25, and individuals possessing or cultivating less than 200 grams of marijuana will be charged with a civil infraction and subject to a fine of $50 or less. Before the law was passed, the individual would have been charged with a minor misdemeanor for less than 100 grams, and a fourth-degree misdemeanor for less than 200 grams. 

The law also states that patients with a medical marijuana card can possess over 200 grams of the drug and not be charged with a criminal offense.

“We are not using the heavy arm of the law when dealing with marijuana use,” Council President Brian Housh said. “I know that the officers are on the right track.”

Housh said this is something the village has been working on for a long time. “Our officers minimize any arrests related to marijuana possession,” Housh said. “In the past five years, statistics highlight that there have been almost no citations for marijuana-related offenses.”

Cresco Labs’ medical-marijuana lab in Yellow Springs Ohio

“This doesn’t change our public safety attitudes,” Housh added. “We are going to be serious about any kind of driving while impaired.” Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and Greene County Sheriff’s deputies are not obligated to charge people applying village ordinances and may choose to cite someone under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). Possession of more than 200 grams of marijuana is still a felony under the ORC, except in the context of medical usage.

“Our concern is that so many things that are criminalized are ruining people’s lives, and we want to avoid those aspects of that,” Housh said. “We recognize that there are a lot of things where a criminal approach makes sense. This is not one of those things.”

Housh said this is part of a larger push by the village council to decriminalize minor offenses and achieve greater racial equity in the village. 

“It’s come up in the context of the kinds of crimes that we feel disproportionately affect minorities,” Housh said. “I want to emphasize a move to keep people out of a system that we feel is racist and otherwise destroys people’s lives.” According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in 2018 black people were 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for the possession of marijuana than white people.