By Nina Zdinjak
As cannabis legalization spreads across the country over the past couple of years, more and more small jurisdictions embrace decriminalizing the plant. In the state of Ohio, so far 22 jurisdictions have already approved local statutes decriminalizing cannabis possession.
Nevertheless, there are those who don’t approve of the legalization trend and are doing what they can to sabotage it. Just last week an Ohio police department shared, and hours later removed, a post on Facebook advocating against a cannabis decriminalization proposal, reported Marijuana Moment.
“Downhill Tumble” For Society
According to the posted-and-later-deleted press release from McArthur Police Chief Thomas Heaton, the cannabis decriminalization initiative on which the town’s adults are meant to decide in the coming months could begin a “downhill tumble” for society.
Heaton highlighted that the proposed measure would reduce penalties for low-level cannabis possessions to a zero-dollar fine.
“The McArthur Police Department is not willing to endorse or recommend the passage of this levy,” the chief said. “Society views may think this is no big deal because it’s just marijuana. However, this is only the beginning of a downhill tumble with regards to ILLEGAL drug use. If the penalties continue to be decreased over time, then what chance does society have to combat the ever-growing drug problem facing our Village and Country.”
NORML Appalachia of Ohio responded with a press release stating that Heaton is “risking his own employment” by getting involved in polling with taxpayer money and pointed out that the police chief violated the federal Hatch Act and Ohio law because he used the police department’s voice to spread “outdated information to influence and intimidate voters.”
“This shows that small-town politics has an ugly, uneducated side,” Don Keeney, an activist with the NORML told Marijuana Moment. “This is why we continue to fight, even on the local level. Change comes from the ground up.”
Furthermore, advocates also highlighted that Heaton incorrectly described the initiative as “levy,” which means it would involve tax, which it does not.