Backers of Marijuana Issue in Ohio are Organized
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Backers of Marijuana Issue in Ohio are Organized
Posted by CN Staff on June 25, 2015 at 07:28:14 PT
By Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch
Source: Columbus Dispatch
Ohio -- Leading up to a November ballot-box showdown over marijuana legalization, ResponsibleOhio is suited up, on the field, and has lots of strength on the bench. The opposition, meanwhile, isn’t near the stadium, has no uniforms and lacks enough players to even field a team.If nothing else, the marijuana-legalization debate shows that ResponsbileOhio is no fly-by-night organization of potheads. It’s a diverse, business-oriented team that includes veteran Republican strategist Neil Clark and 270 Strategies, a group which helped run President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
ResponsibleOhio’s $20 million game plan, from inception to election, is outlined in a 50-page campaign prospectus sent last year to potential investors.The bottom line is the bottom line: big financial profits. The lure to investors, now in place, is a front-row seat for a lucrative, legalized marijuana market in Ohio — and maybe elsewhere.“Winning in the battleground state of Ohio will have an incredibly positive impact on the Midwest and nation,” the document says. “Being on the front line of a projected $1 billion + annual sale potential is one thing. But being able to replicate this victory everywhere else places the Principal Founders (investors) in a stronger position for return on investment in other ventures.”There is no organized, well-funded opposition to the issue at this point, even though Gov. John Kasich and the other four nonjudicial state officeholders are against legalization.Three ResponsibleOhio investors from central Ohio made their first public appearances on Wednesday at a news conference at which they signed an agreement to allow marijuana workers to choose to unionize. About 300 people are expected eventually to be employed at each site.Dr. Saresh Gupta, a Dayton physician, said he will devote 90 percent of his 35-acre site at 6197 Mink St. in Pataskala, in Licking County, to marijuana for medicinal purposes.“We look forward to providing much-needed medical marijuana for people with debilitating diseases,” he said, adding that the marijuana could be used by cancer patients or those with Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.Gupta, who said he wants to be a “good neighbor” to those around his marijuana operation, was joined by investors Rick Kirk, a developer who is funding a 19.1-acre site on Seeds Road in Grove City, south of I-71 and north of Zuber Road, and Jennifer Doering, investor in a 25-acre site on Rt. 42 abutting the Delaware city limits in Concord Township, in Delaware County.A total of about 345 acres statewide would be set aside for growing and processing marijuana if the ballot issue is successful. The other locations are in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Lorain, Lucas, Stark and Summit counties.The Drug Free Action Alliance, a private organization which receives some state grant money, opposes the ResponsibleOhio plan. Marcie Seidel, executive director of the group, said of the ResponsibleOhio campaign, “To make the billions of dollars they are projecting, it must become huge commercialization exactly like big tobacco. Their slick campaign rhetoric touting an improved Ohio economy and caring for sick people and social justice is a ruse.”Although other individuals and organizations are discussing the marijuana debate behind the scenes, a well-funded opposition campaign has not developed, even though the election is just four months away.State lawmakers, meanwhile, are working on an anti-monopoly constitutional amendment which they hope, if passed in November, would undercut marijuana legalization. ResponsibleOhio is expected to file a petition on July 1 with more than double the 305,591 signatures of registered voters needed to get on the Nov. 3 ballot as a constitutional amendment. While Secretary of State Jon Husted raised concerns last week about some potentially fraudulent voter-registration forms to be submitted with the petition, the issue is almost certain to have sufficient signatures to reach the ballot this fall.If approved by voters, the proposal would legalize sale of marijuana for personal and medical use, placing exclusive rights in the hands of 10 investment groups to establish growing sites around the state, including three in central Ohio.The marijuana would be processed, regulated and sold at retail locations and medical-marijuana dispensaries. Sales would be taxed at all levels, with revenue going mainly to local governments. There is a provision for individuals to be able to grow a small number of plants.The campaign prospectus provides an inside look at the ResponsibleOhio team and the strategic plan it hopes will produce victory at the ballot box. It anticipates spending at least $7 million on television and radio advertising, plus millions more on direct mail, social media, the lobbying of officials and grassroots campaigning.A wide-ranging group of people has invested in the ResponsibleOhio plan, including former NBA star Oscar Robertson; real-estate developer Kirk; NFL player Frostee Rucker; entrepreneur Sir Alan Mooney of Columbus; Cincinnati sports agent and businessman James Gould; pay-day lender executives William “Cheney” Pruett and John Humphrey; and Nick Lachey, former member of the boy band 98 Degrees.ResponsibleOhio has an extensive campaign team beginning at the top with Ian James, Stephen Letourneau and Jeff Berding of the Strategy Network, consultants on the successful 2009 casino campaign and others. James will be paid nearly $6 million for his work.Also on the team are Cincinnati attorneys Chris Stock and Paul DeMarco, who are providing legal advice and financial oversight; Neil Clark, the Republican strategist and government-affairs specialist from Grant Street Consulting in Columbus; James Kitchens, a public-opinion research and polling consultant; and Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, of 270 Strategies, a data and analytics firm involved in Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.While the ResponsibleOhio plan is deep with business details, the group has made enemies among other marijuana-legalization supporters.Bob Fitrakis, a longtime advocate and leader of the competing Ohio Rights Group, calls ResponsibleOhio “cannabis capitalists.”“Greed overcame them. They realized there were billions of dollars to be made here. These are people who have never been associated with decriminalization, medical marijuana, or hemp,” he said.Sri Kavuru, president of Ohioans to End Prohibition, another marijuana advocate, said the ResponsibleOhio plan is “well put together and clearly done by professionals.”“But it seems like it was conceived in a smoky backroom by a bunch of consultants who said, ‘Let’s go out and get some investors and we’ll all make money.’ We don’t feel this is about legalization. It doesn’t protect patients. It doesn’t end arrests. It increases some penalties.“It’s all about making money,” said Kavuru.Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)Author: Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch Published: June 25, 2015Copyright: 2015 The Columbus DispatchContact: letters dispatch.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on June 26, 2015 at 10:21:12 PT
This article is one of those insulting ones...
I'm having trouble getting through just reading it... much less assessing what I think of it.FoM, do you know anything about this ResponsibleOhio bunch?I'm very upset that there is a chance for legalization and the end of persecution for people that choose cannabis... but it's got a big ugly, fat zit poking out right in the middle of it. Will people vote for it? Common people? Most people?It's disgusting. Why not a good legalization with no fat cat monopoly involved? Or is it what it would have been anyway... with the plan just clearly stating the situation?It's maybe designed to comfort those that don't want a wide open legalization... but they are the ones that won't vote for any legalization plan anyway!Sigh. Everything has to be so foolishly complicated when it comes to government, it seems.I want it clean! I want it simple. I want it real! I want it fair and open!
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on June 25, 2015 at 11:18:53 PT
Blinded by the light!
These regulations might as well have been written by Freddy and the Dreamers for all the respect they will get.Registered from seed to sale, lol, lol, lol, ha, ha, ha, ha... what about clones? Lol, lol, these guys are in Never, Neverland.
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Comment #2 posted by Mark702 on June 25, 2015 at 11:02:14 PT:
Oregon House passes cannabis industry bill
News Article Submission:After months of negotiations and right before recreational pot becomes legal, Oregon House legislators passed a bill Wednesday setting up the state's legal marijuana market.
Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to bar sales of marijuana if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last year's election. Other counties would have to put the issue of banning pot sales to a vote.
Oregon House passes cannabis industry bill
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on June 25, 2015 at 10:10:03 PT
"The best laid plans of mice and men...
do sometimes go awry"What frigging dreamers these capitalist money junkies are. The general populace will not stand by and be spoon fed their herbs by a bunch of greedy pie eyed dreamers.Ohio will achieve their freedom without these Scrooge McDuck characters. It may take a while to sort out and put out the mischief mongers but they will get there.The plant of renowned is more powerful than most people can imagine and like water will find it's own level in society.
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