Activist sues to block pot law


i wanna be cool too!
Oct 22, 2005
Reaction score

Nate Livingston is ready to fight for his right to party.

An outspoken and controversial community activist, Livingston and
attorney Ken Lawson filed a lawsuit Friday in Hamilton County Common
Pleas Court challenging the constitutionality of a new Cincinnati law
that criminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The law, passed in March, allows for the arrest of people found in
possession of 100 grams - 3.5 ounces - or less. Before council's action,
the city followed state law, which says such possession is a minor
misdemeanor that brings a ticket and nothing else.

Now a fourth-degree misdemeanor, people convicted of possession face up
to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Conviction of a second offense is a
first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a
$1,000 fine.

The law will expire after one year, unless a majority of council votes
to extend it.

"Since the state does not criminalize the smoking of marijuana, the city
has saw fit to criminalize the conduct of plaintiff (Livingston) and
others who, after a stressful day of work or community activism,
appreciate taking a toke off a joint containing marijuana such as
Columbian Gold," the lawsuit says.

Lawson admits he had some fun writing the lawsuit, but said it's serious.

The city's law is unjust, he said, because it violates equal protection
under the law, making it unconstitutional.

"Two citizens in the same state can engage in the same conduct, and one
is labeled a criminal and one is not," Lawson said.

City council passed the law by a 6-2 vote. Council member Jeff Berding
was absent. Cecil Thomas, a council member and former police officer,
wrote and promoted the law. He said he isn't surprised by the suit, and
said the city's law department signed off on the law as constitutional
before passage.

Thomas said the law is needed to bring heat down on the city's open-air
drug markets, and said it can be used to get guns and more serious drugs
off the streets because police will have broader powers to search

"Anybody can challenge it," Thomas said. "But it's based on sound legal,
legislative" principles.

Latest posts