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The Push for Kush: Ohio voters to decide on Issue 3

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Buddie, the marijuana mascot for ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization campaign, greets OSU students on Oct. 26. Credit: Michael Huson | Campus Editor

Buddie, the marijuana mascot for ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization campaign, greets OSU students on Oct. 26. Credit: Michael Huson | Campus Editor

Next week could herald the beginning of legal marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use in Ohio. Voters will decide on the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative during Tuesday’s general election.

The initiative, denoted as Issue 3 on the Ohio ballot, would put in place an amendment to the Ohio constitution, directly changing state law to allow for the legal production, sale, possession and use of marijuana.

“Legalization, I’ve come to understand, touches so many facets of our lives,” said Cassie Young, a graduate student studying social work and public affairs and president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Ohio State. “The fact that (illicit substances) are illegal today harms all of us. It criminalizes behavior that should not be criminalized.”

The ResponsibleOhio measure is controversial both in terms of the larger national debate surrounding legalization and in the context of the economic and structural policy it promotes. The ballot initiative has to compete for more than simple legalization votes, however, because of an adversarial campaign for legal marijuana called Legalize Ohio 2016, which is petitioning for a spot on the ballot in the 2016 general election.

Advocates from the two different Ohio organizations promoting marijuana legalization campaigns visited the Ohio Union on Sunday to discuss and debate both policies, and there has been a continual presence of activists on campus this semester.

Michael McGovern, a representative from ResponsibleOhio, coordinates the campaign’s bus tours, which have stopped at the Columbus campus multiple times this semester to campaign, register students to vote and show off their marijuana mascot, “Buddie.”

“I think a lot of students realize it’s really been a failed prohibition,” McGovern said. “They realize marijuana is something that really shouldn’t be illegal and that there’s a ton of benefits from legalizing it: all the jobs in the community, tax revenue, the medicinal benefits and just not sending people to jail anymore.”

Proponents of the ResponsibleOhio amendment argue that the policy would provide benefits such as legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, heavily reduced sentencing of marijuana-related offenses — such as possession and production — and the creation of a national precedent for other states to follow.

“Yes on (Issue 3) this year in Ohio sets the stage for a national cascade,” said Brice Keller, founder of GreenFight, an organization paired with ResponsibleOhio’s campaign.

Of particular note to opponents, however, was the issue of free market economy with regard to the method of commercialization pursued by ResponsibleOhio’s Issue 3 amendment. Legalize Ohio and other Issue 3 opponents have argued the amendment creates an intentional monopoly on production. According to ResponsibleOhio’s website, the amendment would establish an initial 10 “wholesale grow facilities” for commercial purposes.

Opponents of ResponsibleOhio argue that this limits the potential level of public engagement in the industry of producing wholesale marijuana and fails to adequately ensure competition.

Nicholas Neely, a fourth-year in business sustainability and president of the Cannabis Coalition at OSU, said, “The reason people will vote against Issue 3 is the monopoly structure of the policy.”

The Legalize Ohio 2016 campaign argues that it’s well worth the wait to amend the state constitution in a much different way.

“Whether it’s Legalize Ohio 2016 or another group, legalization is going to be on the ballot again,” said Jacob Wagner, vice president and co-founder of Legalize Ohio 2016. Wagner graduated from Ohio State in 2009 prior to attending law school and is the author of Legalize Ohio 2016’s proposed amendment. “We don’t have to settle for bad policy. Whether you support Legalize 2016 or not, you can wait for something better.”

For Young, the Legalize Ohio campaign is the clear choice, citing perceived problems with the ResponsibleOhio initiative.

“Personally I am 100 percent opposed to Issue 3,” Young said. “I’m training to be a social worker, and I’m also in school for public affairs and from both of those angles, especially those of economic and social justice, I don’t see it being good for Ohio. Not only in the context of the cannabis market, but also in the context of the concentration of wealth and influence of money on politics.”

Still, proponents of the 2015 measure argue that passing a legalization amendment now is worth it for the benefit of those who need it most, even if progress is incremental in nature.

“So, these 10 investment groups, and a collection of hundreds of employees, and volunteers, and activists have contributed to this effort to bring you the opportunity to deliver not guilty verdicts to the people at the ballot box, right now,” Keller said.

McGovern said he wasn’t even keeping future policies on his mind.

“We’re really focused on this, this year,” McGovern said on Monday. “This is the first time (legalization) has ever been on the ballot, so we’re really just focused on the next eight days. We’ve just seen so much excitement, especially on college campuses, to push it through this year instead of trying to wait.”

9 comments

  1. OK, folks, we have several shell games going on here at the same time in order to try to confuse voters.

    First is the claim about how many jobs passing Issue 3 will create. Let’s be honest. Supporters of Issue 3 (yes, YOU) really don’t give a rat’s pattotie about jobs. They/you really just want to smoke your weed without the fear of getting busted. The jobs issue is a smoke-screen (pun intended) to try to get legalization.

    Second is medical vs recreational use. Supporters of Issue 3 paint a sob story of little kids being deprived of a drug (cannabis) to alleviate their pain. The real issue here is legalization of the recreational use of the drug — plain and simple. Don’t confabulate the two drastically different issues of medical vs recreational use.

    Third is the issue of second hand smoke. When was the last time you saw someone smoking a (tobacco) cigarette on campus? In a dorm room? Why is that prohibited? Due to the adverse health effects of others breathing in the second hand smoke. Many of the very same folks who decry having to inhale tobacco smoke from someone else has absolutely no problem smoking weed and exposing others who may not want the effects of the drug in their system. This is a blatent double standard on second hand smoke.

    Now let’s take the second hand smoke one step further. Suppose you are a parent of young children. Is is OK to expose them inadvertently to tobacco smoke? Is it OK to expose them inadvertently to marijuana smoke? If the answer to the first question is NO, then why would the answer to the second question be YES?

    Finally, full disclosure for me. I smoked marijuana perhaps a half dozen times when I was in graduate school, I inhaled, and I did it for recreational purposes. Also, yesterday I voted early YES on Issue 2 (to prohibit creation of monopolies in the Ohio Constitution) and I voted NO on Issue 3 (creation of such a monopoly and legalization of marijuana).

    • Oh there’s definitely a shell game, but it starts with the Ohio legislature trying to confuse and confound the public.

      1) There will be 10 initial farming sites that will hire growers knowledgeable about cultivating marijuana. There will be managers and customer service reps hired at the estimated 300 stores state-wide. (not the 1100 touted. Stores only open if township agrees. funny how that’s not mentioned)

      2) I’m 43. I’m a spinal cord injured patient and I can’t take the opiates. I deal with pain and spasticity daily. Marijuana provides relief from nerve pain and calms tremors. My sister fought the good fight against inflammatory breast cancer for 5 years. She would not have been able to push through chemo if not for her marijuana use to keep her appetite up and food down. Her losing that fight in 2011 does not diminish her struggle. You want to comment on that your heartless SOB? You obviously have never lost a loved one to cancer because you wouldn’t be so cavalier about those suffering.

      3) Most marijuana advocates do not ignite the plant, they only take the temperature up to a point they can extrude the THC. There is no smoke to blow in anyone’s face. It’s called vaping and if you had any clue, you’d already know this.

      4) The children!!! zomg!! This is the last card prohibitionists have to throw. When all else fails, say it endangers children. Here’s some reality for you. The dealers of the black market and back alleyways don’t card anyone. They don’t care what age someone is. If the money is there, the sale is made. What we are trying to do is create a system where marijuana is evaluated, monitored and most importantly, taxed! How under God’s blue sky is that endangering anyone??

      In conclusion, this guy is your standard conservative which means the sky is always falling and society is always going to hell in a hand basket. Enough with the fear mongering. This happening. Focus on the next thing to complain about because on Nov 3, the good people of Ohio will be voting
      No on #2 and Yes on #3 to legalize marijuana.

      • In reply to NoDecafPlz;

        1) I lost my father, my mother-in-law (whom I loved), and my best friend to cancer. I was there with all three as they passed. Also, I earned my PhD in cancer research, so I am familiar with cancer both from a professional and a personal level. I am not cavalier about anyone suffering. I’m just exposing the shell game for what it is.

        2) What is the basis for your statement that “most marijuana advocates do not ignite the plant”? I think that if you were truly objective, you would have to admit that the vast majority of recreational users light up, producing smoke. “Vaping” is a relatively new means of ingesting the drug into the lungs. Oh, and what happens to the cannabis that is not absorbed into the lung tissue when you exhale from the vaping ? Hmmmm.

        3) Yes, the children! I drink alcohol. When I do so, I do not expose my great grandchildren we take care of to the effects of alcohol, unlike what would happen should I smoke a good cigar or marijuana around them.

        4) My politics have nothing to do with my stand on this issue. My concerns are medical, rational, and honesty. I’m not fear mongering, unlike you who are trying to obfuscate the difference between medical and recreational use. I have no problem with properly-dispensed cannabis for VALID medical reasons. I do have problems with unregulated use of an addictive drug for recreational use that has unintended side effects to those in the vicinity.

        Yes on #2, No on #3.

  2. Oh there’s definitely a shell game, but it starts with the Ohio legislature trying to confuse and confound the public.

    1) There will be 10 initial farming sites that will hire growers knowledgeable about cultivating marijuana. There will be managers and customer service reps hired at the estimated 300 stores state-wide. (not the 1100 touted. Stores only open if township agrees. funny how that’s not mentioned)

    2) I’m 43. I’m a spinal cord injured patient and I can’t take the opiates. I deal with pain and spasticity daily. Marijuana provides relief from nerve pain and calms tremors. My sister fought the good fight against inflammatory breast cancer for 5 years. She would not have been able to push through chemo if not for her marijuana use to keep her appetite up and food down. Her losing that fight in 2011 does not diminish her struggle. You want to comment on that your heartless ***? You obviously have never lost a loved one to cancer because you wouldn’t be so cavalier about those suffering.

    3) Most marijuana advocates do not ignite the plant, they only take the temperature up to a point they can extrude the THC. There is no smoke to blow in anyone’s face. It’s called vaping and if you had any clue, you’d already know this.

    4) The children!!! zomg!! This is the last card prohibitionists have to throw. When all else fails, say it endangers children. Here’s some reality for you. The dealers of the black market and back alleyways don’t card anyone. They don’t care what age someone is. If the money is there, the sale is made. What we are trying to do is create a system where marijuana is evaluated, monitored and most importantly, taxed! How under God’s blue sky is that endangering anyone??

    In conclusion, this guy is your standard conservative which means the sky is always falling and society is always going to hell in a hand basket. Enough with the fear mongering. This happening. Focus on the next thing to complain about because on Nov 3, the good people of Ohio will be voting
    No on #2 and Yes on #3 to legalize marijuana.

  3. Hi Bob. I’m glad you weren’t caught for your graduate school indiscretions and had your financial aid cancelled (if you were receiving any). You are implicitly advocating perpetuating that policy by opposing legalization.

    I think everyone should vote their conscience on Issue 3, but Issue 2 inhibits future citizen initiatives by vesting approval power in the state’s ballot board. It is written as a lamb but it is a wolf, meant to deceive voters with language to stop monopolies/oligopolies. Underneath the hood is a power-grab.

    • Chip;

      I was a graduate student in the 1960 at the University of Wisconsin where smoking pot openly was commonly done while sitting on the curb of State Street. I did my experimentation in private (with a few friends), so my chances of getting caught were small, and the chances of any repercussions had I gotten caught were even smaller given the political climate and location at the time. However, if I had gotten busted, I would have accepted my punishment, whatever that might have been. I have other instances in my life where I did that, so this is not just bloviating on my part. When you break the law, you must be willing to pay the consequences. If you don’t want the consequences, then don’t break the law. Pretty simple, huh?

      Issue #2 is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. However, at this time it is better than nothing to block additional amendments to the State Constitution. What we have in the state of Ohio is a system whereby the “sanctity” of the Constitution can be very easily subverted. Every Constitution must have a way of correcting “errors”, as is done with the US Constitution, but the bar for making such changes should be very high so as to not trivialize the Constitution itself. Perhaps a better way would be to pass laws which permit changes, but not make them as amendments to the Constitution. That is what I am against.

      Yes on #2. No on #3. You haven’t changed my mind.

  4. The emphasis of Legal action should be on heroin possession and other narcotics and not marijuana. So I will vote yes on 3. However, I will also vote yes on 2 that will kill my vote on 3. Taxes on the sales of marijuana should be used for marijuana medical research and free college for Ohio students.

  5. Why Is It.............

    Why is it that Ohio can’t just legalize it like the other states have. Why do WE have to change the state constitution in order to legalize pot? I don’t remember Colorado going through all this or having a “Responsible Colorado” trying to monopolize the industry. Why, do you ask? If you ask me, it smells like something Kasich has his greedy hands in……………..

    • If they didn’t embed this into the state constitution, then politicians who didn’t like the measure would go to town to nullify the people’s will.

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