Voters in Highland County and across Ohio are being asked this year to approve a constitutional amendment that would legalize the personal and medical use of marijuana and marijuana-infused products in Ohio.
Supporters of the amendment claim that legalization will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue for state and local governments, create thousands of new jobs and inject billions of dollars into Ohio’s economy.
Unfortunately, whether one supports or opposes the general notion of legalizing marijuana, Issue 3 is extremely flawed. Under Issue 3, only a limited number of licensed facilities will be permitted to produce marijuana for mass consumption. Not surprisingly, the individuals behind these facilities are the same individuals who are largely funding the media campaign to pass Issue 3.
The marijuana monopoly that Issue 3 would create has promised dispensaries across the state numbering more than 1,100 – more than the combined total of McDonald’s and Starbucks in Ohio. If approved, retail stores that are created could sell recreational marijuana in a variety of forms, from “joints” and sprays to edible items such as cookies, brownies, and other candies. It would also permit everyone 21 and older to grow a limited quantity of marijuana at home.
While marijuana is not legal in Ohio, state law is already lenient on the matter, as Ohio Auditor Dave Yost has said. In Ohio, 100 grams of marijuana can be possessed now with a maximum penalty of a $150 fine.
A long and growing list of health organizations and law enforcement agencies oppose Issue 3, including the Fraternal Order of Police, which issued a statement saying, “This proposal would make the daily challenges of our jobs even harder. How can we keep children safe when adults can legally possess significant quantities of marijuana at home within easy reach, or when marijuana retail stores can operate within a stone’s throw of a newly built school or daycare? Issue 3 is a nightmare for the law enforcement community.”
Another statewide issue on the ballot, Issue 2, would prevent the kind of monopoly that Issue 3 would create. We urge a vote in favor of Issue 2 and a vote against Issue 3. Legalizing marijuana might make sense to a limited degree under certain circumstances. Issue 3 is the not the right way to do it. Vote no on Issue 3.