Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jan 2011
Source: News Record, The (U of Cincinnati, OH Edu)
Contact:  2011 The News Record
Author: Anne Huelefeld


The United States officially declared a "War on Drugs" in 1971.
Despite other narcotics posing much greater risks to public health,
efforts have been focused largely on the prohibition of marijuana.

After all these years, supply and demand for marijuana has only
increased (as well as organized crime, incarceration of nonviolent
offenders and costs to taxpayers), leading many to the conclusion that
the government is fighting a losing and unworthy battle.

This is why many individuals and organizations, such as Students for
Sensible Drug Policy, support drug policy reform.

Ohio is one of just 13 states that has decriminalized marijuana
possession for personal use.

Decriminalization means that such possession is a minor misdemeanor
(comparable to a traffic ticket), the penalty for which is a citation
and a fine of $150 -- no jail time, no criminal record.

This fact might come as a surprise, since in 2007, the city of
Cincinnati actually passed an ordinance re-criminalizing the
possession of marijuana in any amount.

Until June 2011, getting caught with a single joint within city limits
qualifies you for jail time and a criminal record and disqualifies you
from receiving state funding to attend college.

A major argument for the ordinance was that it would reduce the rate
of violent crimes, but the Cincinnati Beacon reported statistics that
showed that only one year after the ordinance's passing, the numbers
of murders, rapes, burglaries and robberies all increased.

Many supporters of drug policy reform expressed their discontent with
this ordinance to the City Council. Justin Jeffre, political candidate
and blogger behind the Cincinnati Beacon, made an impassioned speech
before council in favor of repealing the ordinance. Members of UC's
chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy wrote to the council,
expressing our support for the repeal.

For the 2011 budget, council voted 5-4 to repeal the ordinance,
putting Cincinnati again under the state decriminalization law.

While drug policy reform might seem daunting to some, it has happened
here in Cincinnati, and supporters are fighting for it across the
country on all levels.

It's easy to think on the large scale, but grass roots activism is the
path which leads to big changes, and we all can, and should, hold our
local government accountable.

The UC Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a chapter of the
international organization ( We meet every other Monday at 5
p.m. For more information, contact Anne Huelefeld

Annie Huelefeld is a third-year philosophy student and president of UC
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