Following the passage of a new ordinance, people who possess one type of rare and dangerous drug in Fairport Harbor will now face the same legal penalties as those convicted with marijuana possession.
Fairport Harbor Village Council introduced and passed an ordinance at their Feb. 3 meeting lifting the penalty of possessing hashish, or any of its forms, from a minor misdemeanor to a fourth-degree misdemeanor if the substance is less than 10 grams of solid or less than 2 grams of liquid.
The same charges were increased for possessing hashish paraphernalia.
Like marijuana, hashish, a gooey wax substance, and hash oil are products of the cannabis plant. Hash oil, and its use of the organic compound butane, stands out from the rest for its high concentration of THC and dangerous ability to ignite and explode, according to authorities.
Fairport Harbor council members increased the penalty of marijuana possession from a minor misdemeanor, the state minimum, to a fourth-degree misdemeanor in 1999, but didn’t include hashish in the change.
Police Chief Mark Kish said his department hadn’t tackled a hash-related drug offense since his days as a sergeant some 25 years ago so his department never noticed the exclusion.
That was until a man was arrested and hash oil was found in his apartment the weekend after Christmas, Kish said.
In October, Mentor-on-the-Lake firefighters responded to an apartment fire where authorities believed a man was manufacturing butane hash oil when flames ignited.
“What I am afraid about is the fires,” Kish said following the Feb. 3 meeting. “The one in Mentor-on-the-Lake was in an apartment building unit, and ours was in an apartment building’s middle floor. There were kids in other units. It could’ve been a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Lake County Narcotics Agency Director David Frisone said that hashish and hash oil have existed for a long time, mostly in the West. In the three years he’s been with the agency, Frisone said he’s only investigated three cases of hash oil and even less of hashish, but its presence here is growing because of all of the accessible videos online on how to make it.