Dayton voters overwhelmingly want the city reduce the penalties for pot.
Nearly three-quarters of Dayton voters said yes Tuesday to Issue 8, which asked if they wished to decriminalize misdemeanor marijuana offenses, according to unofficial final results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
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About 28,310 people voted yes to decrease penalties for minor pot offenses, and about 10,222 voted no.
City leaders promised that if the majority of voters said yes on Issue 8, they would eliminate some penalties and reduce others for minor marijuana offenses.
Dayton is the latest community to consider marijuana decriminalization, which reflects changing attitudes about the drug and whether using or possessing it deserves to be a crime.
Issue 8 is an advisory election that asked residents to vote “yes” or “no” in favor of decriminalizing certain misdemeanor pot offenses.
The measure essentially is an opinion poll that will determine if the Dayton City Commission will introduce legislation to amend the city’s pot laws.
The commission has not identified all of the exact changes to city code it would pursue if Issue 8 gets more yes votes than no votes.
But planned changes include eliminating a $150 fine for minor pot and hashish possession convictions.
Possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a minor misdemeanor violation under Dayton’s code of ordinances.
But decriminalization supporters say people busted for pot can face additional penalties and more severe punishment if they do not pay the fines.
Supporters also claim that reducing penalties for pot is a civil rights issue because enforcement of the law disproportionately impacts communities of color.
This newspaper’s analysis of Dayton Municipal Court data showed that about seven in 10 defendants in misdemeanor pot possession cases were black men.
Advocates for reforming marijuana laws say a pot conviction on a person’s record can jeopardize their chances of getting a job, certain kinds of aid and public housing.
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