Could the passage of Issue 2 impact previous, current marijuana charges and convictions?

DAYTON — Voters decided to make Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana this week, but Ohioans won’t be protected by the law until it goes into effect on Dec. 7.

Soon it will expand the legal marijuana use beyond the state’s current medical marijuana market.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ohio votes approve Issue 2, becomes 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana

“Marijuana, I don’t use it personally. But I have a lot of friends that do and to me, it’s just like alcohol and can be regulated that way,” Stanley Graham, of Greene County, said.

Under the new law, adults 21 and up in Ohio will be able to possess up to two and a half ounces of pot and grow up to six plants per adult at home, capping at 12 per household.

News Center 7′s John Bedell spent the day into how the new law will impact court cases across the state and here in the Miami Valley.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr. said Issue 2 will not impact the bulk marijuana possession cases his office will continue to prosecute as felonies. Those have amounts of pot that are far above the limit Issue 2 sets.

After talking to local municipal prosecutors who deal with the kinds of smaller possession cases Issue 2 deals with as misdemeanors, Heck said he believes Issue 2 will reduce their caseload and force decisions about some current cases.

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“What they’re going to do with cases that are pending that, again, under the new law are legal now, but were not legal two weeks ago,” Heck said.

Issue 2 will not automatically remove marijuana offense convictions from people’s criminal records in Ohio, but Heck said he expects more requests to be filed to have some previous pot convictions removed from people’s records.

“I would expect that there is going to be a lot of complaints filed in order to try and eliminate the collateral sanctions and also try to seal or expunge their record,” Heck said.

The prosecutor also said he doesn’t expect Issue 2 to impact jail populations because the misdemeanor or minor misdemeanor convictions that come with possession cases that will soon be legal often do not come with jail time.

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