Marijuana Debate Heats Up
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Marijuana Debate Heats Up
Posted by CN Staff on October 25, 2015 at 10:02:01 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Lorain -- Ohio voters will have the chance next month to decide whether the Buckeye State should experiment with marijuana. Unlike other states, such as Colorado, that have legalized marijuana slowly beginning with medicinal use and proceeding to recreational pot, Issue 3 would make both forms of use legal at the same time.Although medical marijuana and recreational use poll well in the state, the issue has faced stiff opposition, including from a second proposed constitutional amendment that would bar monopolies from being written into the state constitution.
That second proposal, known as Issue 2, has the potential to set up a fierce legal battle if both it and Issue 3 pass next month, forcing the courts to decide which amendment trumps the other.Issue 3At its core, Issue 3 is designed to legalize marijuana in Ohio, but it would also create a framework that dictates who can grow and sell pot and how tax revenues from the newly created industry will be distributed throughout the state.Lorain County is the only county in the state that would see two facilities dedicated to marijuana. In Lorain, a grow facility is slated for construction near the Black River, and a marijuana testing lab is planned for Oberlin.The Lorain facility alone is expected to create between 200 and 300 jobs and those workers will have the opportunity to unionize if they want to, according to Anthony Giardini, an attorney and minority investor in the Lorain operation.Supporters also point to the tax revenue that would be generated by legalization as a boon to local governments that have been hard-hit by cuts in funding from the state and in some cases are still struggling to deal with the fallout from the Great Recession.ResponsibleOhio, the investor-backed group that got Issue 3 on the ballot, has estimated that by 2020, legalized pot would be pulling in more than $500 million annually. That could mean nearly $4.1 million for county government alone and more than $7.5 million that would be split among the county’s cities, villages and townships, according to figures released earlier this year.Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo, a Democrat who has long pushed for medical marijuana legalization, said the county could use the money.He said that it’s too early to say whether the revenue projections from ResponsibleOhio will meet their targets when it comes to dispensing cash to county and other local government entities, but he argued that the local government needs an infusion of funds.“It’s a revenue stream Lorain County could really use,” Kalo said.He also said that comparisons to the casino tax distributions, which have been lower than expected, don’t hold water because after the casinos were approved, the state legislature agreed to the allow racinos and video gambling terminals in the state. Those drained profits from the voter-approved casinos and their tax revenue wasn’t distributed locally as the casino money was, Kalo said.Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, a Democrat, sees things differently.Although the measure would mean a lot of jobs and money coming into his city, which has struggled with budget woes and loss of industry, he doesn’t support Issue 3.But Ritenauer said if marijuana does become legalized he expects it could still do good things for the city’s bank account. He said he tried to make sure that even if it passes over his opposition that Lorain had the best deal it could have.“If I vote against it, but it passes, the city of Lorain should still get its fair share of revenue,” he said.State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, said he supports legalization because it will bring jobs to both Lorain and Oberlin, which he also represents in the Statehouse.“Eventually, this is going to happen, whether it’s Issue 3 or next time, but eventually it’s going to create hundreds of jobs and I’d rather it be in Lorain County,” he said.MonopoliesAlthough most people who oppose Issue 3 are opposed to legalization, they’ve had their biggest success portraying the proposed amendment as being a gift to a handful of wealthy investors who stand to make an obscene amount of money if the measure is approved by voters.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, is one of the loudest voices in state government opposing Issue 3. He said he’d like to see the state legislature explore responsible ways to get medical marijuana into the hands of patients, but that’s not what Issue 3 does.“What this is, though, is a group of wealthy investors who are trying to create a marijuana monopoly to make hundreds of millions of dollars and that is wrong,” he said.John Pardee, leader of the pro-medical marijuana Ohio Rights Group, initially opposed ResponsibleOhio because of concerns over monopolies, but after some changes to the initial proposal he now backs Issue 3.He said in addition to now allowing personal growing of marijuana, some of the investors who backed the constitutional amendment have agreed to allow artisanal marijuana growers to ply their trade at the 10 authorized grow sites, including the one in Lorain. He also said as many as 1,100 independent marijuana stores would be allowed under the amendment.Pardee said he’s also excited by a planned research institution that will probe medical marijuana uses that will be built in Licking County if Issue 3 passes.Giardini, who also serves as chairman of the Lorain County Democratic Party, said if the proposed constitutional amendment didn’t contain 10 designated growing locations, then it would fall to state government to decide where marijuana should be grown. The way Issue 3 is designed, he said, allows voters to make the decision.“It’s why I’ve argued against the term monopoly,” he said. “It simply isn’t correct. You’ve got competition. They are competing with one another and by definition that’s not a monopoly.”Issue 2Most of the state legislature disagreed with Giardini and other Issue 3 backers, approving a measure that asks voters whether they want to allow monopolies to be inserted into the Ohio Constitution.Husted said Issue 2 isn’t specifically designed to countermand Issue 3, although he believes if both pass that’s what should happen.“If both were to pass, my read is that Issue 2 has pre-eminence over Issue 3,” he said, because the legislature-backed amendment would take effect immediately, unlike the petition-driven measure that doesn’t become law until 30 days after passage.Husted said the anti-monopoly amendment is an outgrowth of not only the push to legalize marijuana, but the constitutional amendment several years ago that created four casinos around the state.Deciding what companies or individuals get to control what business isn’t what the Constitution is for, he argued.“The constitution is there to protect your individual rights, it’s not about granting special rights,” Husted said.But Giardini said the anti-monopoly issue has only one purpose, and that’s to act as a backstop in case voters approve legalization.“It’s a heat-seeking missile designed to shoot down the will of the people,” Giardini said, adding that he expects a court battle if both issues pass.Ramos said he already has voted for Issue 3 and against Issue 2, which he called “bad regardless” of how it was designed.“I think we can’t retroactively take away someone’s right to put something on the ballot and that’s what Issue 2 is,” he said.Husted has launched an investigation into accusations that ResponsibleOhio engaged in shady practices while gathering signatures, allegations that the organization has denied. ResponsibleOhio came up short on its first round of petitions, but was able to garner enough signatures during a second push to make the ballot.FalloutIf marijuana legalization is passed, Curtis Tuggle, president of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County, predicts nothing but bad outcomes for Ohio residents.Tuggle said that claims that marijuana isn’t addictive are false. Kalo said it’s no more dangerous than alcohol.But Tuggle said the recovery community deals with people who are hooked on pot all the time, and he said marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs such as heroin. If marijuana does become legalized, he said, it would overwhelm the already overtaxed resources of those who treat addiction.“Addiction itself is a huge problem,” Tuggle said. “There’s a link between starting with marijuana that leads to misuse of other substances.”He also said that the damage that marijuana causes to the brains of young people, including IQ loss, anxiety and decreased motivation, makes it too risky to increase the level of access youth will have to marijuana.“There are very serious problems where it’s illegal and that would only be exacerbated if legalization were to become the policy of Lorain County and Ohio,” he said.Tuggle said it wasn’t right for marijuana backers to argue that pot is less dangerous than other drugs, such as heroin, because it’s hard to analyze the harm a particular drug can cause.“It’s really early to try to rate which is more harmful than the other,” he said.Giardini said the arguments against marijuana legalization are the same ones those who favored the prohibition of alcohol made a century ago. He said those groups claimed alcohol would cause the same societal ills as anti-marijuana forces do today.“If you’d gone to a Woman’s (Christian) Temperance Union meeting in the 1920s, you would have heard the same or worse,” he said.Giardini said if those opposed to legalization are so concerned about what people might do to harm themselves or others with marijuana they should be pushing to ban alcohol, which can be far more damaging.He said he would ask those fighting marijuana legalization, “What are you doing to get alcohol prohibited again? Or are you conceding some of us can handle alcohol responsibly and maturely?”Tuggle argued that Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana has led to an increase in instances of impaired driving and other problems, such as overdoses on loosely regulated edible marijuana products such as gummy bears laced with pot’s psychoactive component. He said those appeal to children, another pitfall of legalization.“I think it’s reasonable to assume that those same harmful effects would occur in other states where recreational use is legalized,” he said.Pardee said while there might be problems with how Colorado has deployed legalization, that doesn’t mean Ohio plans to repeat those mistakes.“We’re not going to do it the Colorado way,” he said. “We’re going to do it the Ohio way.”Giardini said he doesn’t think that Ohio will see a surge in drugged driving, because unlike Colorado law, there isn’t a provision in Issue 3 that would allow the creation of marijuana bars that people would visit to get high before driving home.Legal ProblemsUnder current Ohio law, marijuana is essentially decriminalized. Those caught with a small amount face a $150 fine, although they also must lose their driving privileges for six months, something some Columbus lawmakers are working to change.Dennis Cavanaugh, commander of the Lorain County Drug Task Force, said he and many others in law enforcement would like the punitive measures to stay and they remain adamantly opposed to legalization.He warned that legal pot will make it more accessible to children and will increase the number of accidents, exactly as it did in Colorado. He also said that products with high psychoactive content, such as edibles, are more dangerous than most people realize.“You’re not going to be able to control it,” he said. “… If you legalize it, more people are going to use it.”He also doubted there would be an effective way to regulate marijuana, which he believes will remain readily available on the black market even if pot is no longer outlawed.Ramos said he’s troubled by the tendency of marijuana laws to disproportionately affect minorities.“I think our marijuana laws are antiquated. I think it’s being used to lock up a bunch of low-level, nonviolent offenders,” he said.Husted said another legal issue will come in the workplace. Many employers require drug tests for their employees for safety and liability reasons.“Just because this passes doesn’t mean you can use it,” he said.Husted also argued that marijuana legalization will make it even harder for employers to find workers who can pass drug tests and will make Ohio less competitive when it comes to luring businesses to the state.Tuggle agreed with Husted that legalized pot will simply make the problem of people failing drug tests worse and keep more people from getting jobs. He also sees it as a safety issue.“You wouldn’t want someone driving a truck or a school bus under the influence,” he said.Rather than simply not hiring people or firing workers because they test positive for marijuana, Giardini said employers should ask whether those people are using the drug on the job or as something to relax with on Saturday nights.He said most people know that if they come to work high they should expect to lose their jobs, just as they would if they showed up at work drunk.For Pardee, a self-described libertarian, he said it’s up to each individual to make a decision about what what’s best for them, not the state or employers.“I think any adult should have the right to do whatever they want with their own body,” he said.Source: Associated Press (Wire) Published: October 25, 2015Copyright: 2015 The Associated PressCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 28, 2015 at 18:47:08 PT
Oleg the Tumor 
That is how we are voting. No on 2 and Yes on 3!
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Comment #2 posted by Oleg the Tumor on October 28, 2015 at 17:15:14 PT
The View from Cleveland
Soon we will gather in an attempt to replace an invisible monopoly with a visible one.The extant monopoly is currently run by the federal government, or to be more correct, the heirs, successors and assignee's of John D. Rockefeller, Irenee DuPont, et. al.What was once a clever play to corner the market on a pharmaceutical and an oil substitute in one fell swoop has spread beyond all boundaries: schools that look like prisons, prisons transformed into real estate investment trusts, prisoners into victims at so much per head. Headlong foolishness to stretch into the future unchecked. If issue three wins, there will be a legal battle regardless of what happens on Issue Two. The above referenced ignoids are not about to let go of the tiger that they have been hanging onto since 1937.On the other hand, I'm an epileptic with a brain tumor, and time is a finite commodity.Even if Issue Three passes with proverbial Flying Colors, the net change to the landscape won't change very much in the short term. We will see dispensaries in Cleveland's wealthy western suburbs, nothing in the inner-city, no minority representation and sky high prices. I'll still be out there looking for aluminum cans on the ground and buying brickweed from the cartel with my disability money .Please pardon my cynicism, but 1500 people die of cancer every single day and many of us use cannabis for relief. For our legislators to respond to Issue Three with Issue Two
is a flat out betrayal.But we must vote No on 2 & Yes on 3 for the future, even if we ourselves are not in the picture. 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on October 28, 2015 at 04:42:32 PT
Another DEBATE
Today Repub's debate in Boulder, Colorado.Odd, they must hate places like Boulder, Colorado. "The Republic of Boulder"Perhaps the last place in Colorado that would deny global warming. Etc. Etc.Perhaps the first place in Colorado to support ending cannabis prohibition. Etc. Etc.Start the grill, get out the skewers.
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