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Information on Ohio Issue 3

Posted by on September 11, 2015
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Last night I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to moderate a community forum Hosted by the Tea Party on the upcoming ballot initiative(s) for the legalization of marijuana in Ohio.  The three guest panelists were Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, along with Dr. David Ellison who is a local physician that has done research on the chemical aspects of cannabis and its affect on the human body.  Here are some of the takeaways from that forum. 

First of all, some of the primary myths surrounding the legalization of marijuana were quickly dispelled by both Jones and Gmoser.  Although it is currently illegal to produce, distribute, or use, the reality is that anything less than 20 ounces of marijuana (which as we saw at the forum is a rather large bag) is considered a misdemeanor in Ohio and typically isn’t even prosecuted as a standalone charge.  So basically the whole idea that by legalizing marijuana we are going to somehow empty out our penal system by releasing all the minor miscreants of society is a complete falsehood.  In addition, Mr. Gmoser produced an eye opening datasheet of statistics derived from studies out of Colorado after it legalized pot to show what the net societal side affects are that have been realized to date (i.e. amount of taxes collected on its sale, changes in crime rates, changes in support program costs, etc.) 

The second takeaway from last night is that there is a definitive link to the beneficial medicinal properties of cannabis.  However, it was also pointed out that the elements within cannabis that provide proven medical benefits are completely unrelated to the substances that create the associated “high”.  In addition, the beneficial compounds can be easily separated from the euphoric ones and compressed into pill format.  So from a clinical standpoint there is a definite justification for legalization of certain parts of cannabis for medicinal purposes.  However, there is still no such justification for its recreational use. 

The third takeaway has to do with the way Issue 3 has been written (and on this point there appears to be somewhat universal agreement that it is bad).  Issue 3 puts no restriction whatsoever on the potency or form of distribution.  This means that the sky’s the limit on how powerful it can be genetically modified to become.  It also means that it can be infused into otherwise benign forms of ingestion (i.e. brownies and lollipops) which make it much more naively attractive for accidental consumption by children. 

There are actually two separate ballot issues that are somewhat related to vote on this fall.  The first, as is described above, is Issue 3 which legalizes marijuana, but at the same time creates a State controlled monopoly on its production and distribution.  Issue 3 is specifically designed to create 10 “Zones” (basically farms) that are the only ones permitted to produce legal marijuana in Ohio.  The second, Issue 2, is conversely meant to deny Ohio the right to setup such a monopoly in the first place.  

As a side note, the Secretary of State’s office recently issued subpoenas to the primary backing organization of Issue 3 (Responsible Ohio) regarding concerns related to irregularities in the collection and validation process of signatures on petitions to get Issue 3 placed on the ballot in the first place.  In addition, a lot of the rumors are that the primary financial backers of Issue 3 also happen to be the primary potential financial benefactors of its passage in current form (i.e. the owners of the 10 farms that would hold the monopoly).

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