Note: This story appears in the Friday, Aug. 9 newspaper on Page A1.

Initiative petitions proposing ordinances for Nelsonville and Trimble that would eliminate fines and court costs for some marijuana and hashish offenses have been filed with the Athens County Board of Elections.

Election workers have determined that the petitions have enough valid signatures, but said the ballot language needs to be approved by the Ohio secretary of state for the November General Election.

The Athens County Board of Elections would still need to vote on whether the measures will be certified for the general election.

The Nelsonville initiative petition was circulated by Clifford Barrows of New Plymouth, and the Trimble petition was circulated by Donald A. Kenney of Logan.

County Deputy Elections Director Penny Brooks said she submitted the Nelsonville ordinance for review by County Assistant Prosecutor Zach Saunders, who found it meets all requirements to be on the ballot. Brooks said the Trimble petition also will be submitted to Saunders.

The two proposed ordinances are nearly the same.

If enacted, a person could still be found guilty of possession of marijuana and hashish. If the amount is less than 200 grams of marijuana, 10 grams of solid hashish or two grams of liquid hashish, the offense would be a minor misdemeanor with a fine of $0.00.

The ordinances would make cultivation or manufacturing of less than 200 grams of marijuana a minor misdemeanor with a penalty of $0.00.

Giving or attempting to give someone 20 grams of marijuana or less would be a minor misdemeanor with a fine of $0.00.

The measures would also make possessing, selling or using marijuana or hashish paraphernalia a minor misdemeanor, with again the fine being $0.00.

No court costs could be assessed for those minor misdemeanors.

The proposed Nelsonville ordinances says arrest or conviction on the minor misdemeanors is not a criminal record that has to be reported when an inquiry is made about the person’s criminal record, for example on a job application.

That provision is not in the proposed Trimble ordinance.

An attempt was made to put a Nelsonville marijuana ordinance before voters in 2018, but it did not make in on the ballot after the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office found the initiative petition defective.

srobb@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @SteveRmessenger

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