Newark votes to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2011, file photo, medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2011, file photo, medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

NEWARK, OH (WCMH) — Tuesday people in Newark voted to make small pot possession a minor offense. It was two moms who helped ensure the measure passed!

Alissa Baker and Leanne Barbee are moms who for the past year have been fighting to allow people to have marijuana in Newark without fear of fines or jail time.

“We’re here to break the stigma. I mean it’s ridiculous that people want to continue to stigmatize marijuana users,” said Baker.

More than half of voters in Newark said yes to decriminalizing marijuana. People NBC4 spoke with said police should be worrying about more serious crimes.

“It’s time to let the law enforcement focus their time and resources on the real issues in these cities and it’s not marijuana users,” said Barbee.

Right now Newark has some of the most severe punishments for minor pot possession in the state. The new law means no fines or penalties for marijuana possession up to 200 grams.

Baker and Barbee said pot is a drug that’s helping, not hurting.

“I feel personally that prescription drugs are more of the gateway drug right now we see the opiate rates are skyrocketing and most people are getting addicted to heroin because of prescription opiates and not marijuana,” said Baker.

“In states that have a fully functioning marijuana program opiate related deaths have dropped 25%,” said Barbee.

They said the next step is seeing medical marijuana legislation take effect in a few years. These women say they’re not done fighting for legal pot use.

“Trying already to decide what we want to do next.”

The new law takes effect soon, five days after the Board of Elections confirms those results.

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