Bellaire, Ohio – Bellaire residents have a decision to make.
In November, an ordinance will be up for vote that would eliminate the penalty for possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana within village limits.
The ordinance is part of an initiative by “Sensible Bellaire,” and Director Bill Schmitt Junior says legalizing marijuana would actually benefit law enforcement and the community.
“It’ll give the police an opportunity to spend their time and resources on the real criminals in town because, let’s face it, marijuana isn’t Bellaire’s problem,” said Schmitt.
But City Council and Police Chief Mike Kovalyk disagree. They say that with the legalization of any amount of an illegal drug, the instances of impaired driving crashes will increase, and the village will see an uptick in crime.
“Our council and myself oppose it,” said Kovalyk.
“We believe it will just bring additional problems to the community as far as drug abuse, and we still believe that marijuana is a gateway drug.”
It is easy to conclude that of the residents that are aware of the ordinance, opinions are divided.
“I don’t know why anybody would oppose it,” said Jesse Davis. “Marijuana is just a plant. There’s a lot, lot worse things going on out here.”
“I don’t think it’s good because I’ve got a son that’s 18 years old, and I don’t want him smoking,” said Tim Kees.
Right now, the penalty for possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana in Bellaire is a small fine and no jail time. Again, if this ordinance is passed, it would eliminate all penalties.
Only time, and a general election, will tell the future of marijuana in the village of Bellaire.