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News: Fun with Numbers

Marijuana stats don't tell much

By Greg Flannery · December 13th, 2006 · News
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You'd have to be stoned to draw any conclusions from City Manager Milton Dohoney's report on the impact of Cincinnati's new marijuana law. It's one of those reports that's most telling for what it doesn't say.

For example, the report says police arrested 2,330 people for possession of marijuana between March 29 and Sept. 30. But it doesn't say that that's significantly down from a comparable period last year.

The report covers the first six months of an ordinance making possession of less than 100 grams of pot a fourth-degree misdemeanor, with a possible 30-day jail sentence. Repeat offenders can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail.

The report, mandated by council, gives some raw data but no real analysis. Dohoney merely conveyed the numbers provided by the police department.

"He transmitted it, but it all obviously comes from the police department," says Meg Olberding, spokeswoman for the city.

In 2005 the police department issued 5,839 citations for possession, using a state law that treats small amounts of pot as a minor misdemeanor, according to Lt. Tom Lanter, police spokesman. That makes last year's six-month average 2,919.

Under the new, stricter local law, the number of possession cases dropped by about 20 percent. Does that mean it's more effective -- or less? The report doesn't say.

The report says 1,063 of the people arrested have been convicted so far. It doesn't tell us how many have been acquitted. Indeed, judging by the report, it's hard to imagine any have been found innocent.

"Four hundred sixty-six cases have been adjudicated through the court, not resulting in a conviction," the report says. "This is usually due to a plea bargain arrangement where the defendant pled guilty to a more serious charge."

About those more serious charges: How many marijuana busts resulted in felony arrests for serious crime? The report doesn't say.

Conversely, how many marijuana busts were incidental -- say, a murder suspect with a joint in his pocket? The report doesn't say.

How many people were arrested for possession of a little pot and no other crime? The report doesn't say.

The report says 37 guns were confiscated as a result of police finding marijuana on suspects. Were the guns legal? Did more serious charges result? The report doesn't say.

One number in the report is decidedly shocking. How many people have been sent to drug court -- and treatment -- as a result of the new law? None.

"Drug court is only used for select felony drug offenders," the report says. "Individuals arrested for violating Cincinnati Municipal Code 910-23 are not eligible for drug court."

Arrests for 100 grams of marijuana or less: 2,330

Convictions for fourth-degree misdemeanor: 1,063

Not convicted: 466

Convictions for first-degree misdemeanor: 0

Number of jury trials: 0

Pending cases: 801

Guns confiscated: 37

Amount of marijuana confiscated: 35 pounds

Amount of other drugs confiscated: Crack cocaine, 360 grams; powder cocaine, 193 grams; heroin, 30 grams.



Data are for March 29-Sept. 30, 2006. Source: Cincinnati Police Department
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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