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Newark approves measure to decriminalize marijuana

Marijuana plants (WSYX/WTTE)

NEWARK, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Voters have approved an amendment to an ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana possession within the city limits of Newark.

Prior to the Tuesday vote, those caught with the drug faced fines and up to 60 days in jail.

The "Sensible Newark" plan as its called, would eliminate those fines or potential jail time for those with 200 grams or less of marijuana, or anyone spotted with paraphernalia related to it.

"I don't do it personally, but no one has the authority to tell another person what they can do on their own time," said Newark voter Steve Green.

A group called the East Central Ohio Decriminalization Initiative worked to get enough signatures on a petition to get it to the ballot.

With just over 1,000 votes in support of the measure, supporters say it could pave the way for other communities.

"We wanted to show that we can change marijuana laws or penalties, and there are Ohio voters that want it," said Leanne Barbee of the East Central Ohio Decriminalization Initiative.

Newark Police say they'll be keeping a close watch to make sure people follow the rules.

The say the changes only affect those possessing marijuana who live within Newark city limits.

They say laws remain the same for those in other parts of the county.

Still, some wonder about long term effects.

"It's a bad thing when it comes to work. If you're using it and going to work and driving machinery, that's what worries me," said Newark resident Alicia Hill.

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