Columbus stops prosecuting low-level pot possession cases

COLUMBUS (AP) — Misdemeanor marijuana possession cases are no longer being prosecuted by the city of Columbus.

City Attorney Zach Klein said Wednesday a new state law legalizing industrial hemp would require testing to distinguish hemp from marijuana. Hemp contains little if any THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient.

Klein says his office can’t prove marijuana possession beyond a reasonable doubt without testing. He’s also dismissing pending misdemeanor possession charges.

He says officers still have constitutional grounds to stop someone or search them if they believe a person has marijuana, which remains an illegal substance.

A new city ordinance reduces penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Possession of less than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a $10 fine, while possession of between 100 and 250 grams (8.8 ounces) is $25.