Ballot Initiative to Depenalize Misdemeanor Cannabis Crimes Approved in Athens, Ohio

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A ballot initiative in Athens, Ohio has been accepted which, if approved, would reduce penalties for misdemeanor cannabis offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law, the Athens Post reports. The Athens Cannabis Ordinance (TACO) seeks to remove the 30-day jail sentence and $250 fine associated with low-level cannabis crimes.

The ballot approval comes on the second attempt by advocates, who fell less than 100 signatures short on their 2016 bid.

Caleb Brown, one of the leaders of the TACO initiative, said the ordinance uses parts of the state constitution which allow localities to alter misdemeanor penalties within city limits. TACO would see penalties for cannabis use reduced to zero days in jail and zero fines.

Saraquoia, another TACO campaign leader, called the measure “a no-brainer” to reduce penalties and “denounce the stigma attached to cannabis.”

“It’s not dangerous,” she said in a previous interview with the Post. “We know that our jails are sometimes occupied by people with low-level cannabis offenses and that law enforcement hours are being wasted.”

Athens is home to Ohio University, and students attending the college will have the opportunity to vote on the issue in November so long as they are registered to vote by October 10 at an address within city limits.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correctly indicate the voting requirements for students and citizens in Athens, Ohio. A previous version of the article incorrectly indicated that only proof of residence was required to participate in local elections.


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