Council rejects proposal to decriminalize marijuana in Toledo

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - A national organization asked Toledo City Council to reduce the penalties for people caught in possession of marijuana at their meeting Tuesday, but council didn't like the idea.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) wanted council to approve a plan to decriminalize marijuana in the city. The proposal would mean anyone found in possession of 200 grams or less of marijuana would face only a minor misdemeanor charge – no fines or jail time.

NORML collected more than the 6,200 signatures needed to get the proposal in front of city council, but it was voted down 11-1. Councilwoman Theresa Gabriel was the only one to vote for the law. She did not share her reasoning for her vote.

Councilman Tom Waniewski, however, was firmly against it.

"While I agree that maybe our jails are overcrowded, I think there needs to be a closer look at just how we address that," Waniewski said. "We can't willy-nilly say, 'OK, if you've got a gram of pot, a couple ounces of pot, we're not going to send you to jail.' There needs to be a greater discussion on that."

The proposal could still end up on a future ballot for city voters to decide, but council members were told it would not be this November.

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