Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jan 2015
Source: News Herald (Willoughby, OH)
Copyright: 2015 Associated Press
Author: Ann Sanner, Associated Press


COLUMBUS (AP) - Four of Ohio's statewide officers expressed 
opposition Thursday to an effort to legalize medical and recreational 
marijuana, with the state's attorney general calling one proposal "a 
stupid idea."

The plan would amend the Ohio Constitution to make marijuana legal 
for medical and personal use for those over 21 years old.

Supporters envision a network of 10 growers sending the product to 
designated testing facilities for safety and potency screenings. The 
pot would then go to either not-for-profit medical marijuana 
dispensaries, retail outlets or to be infused into various consumer products.

Attorney General Mike DeWine blasted the plan, saying it would create 
a monopoly.

"It's a stupid idea," he told reporters in Columbus at a legislative 
preview session for journalists organized by The Associated Press and 
featuring leaders in the state. Republican Gov. John Kasich was 
invited but declined.

DeWine, who appeared on a panel with other GOP statewide 
officeholders, cited concerns that marijuana could end up in products 
that children could get their hands on, such as candy.

Secretary of State Jon Husted said he would "vigorously" ask voters 
to defeat it if gets on the November ballot.

"It is offensive to think that we would be asked to give a 
constitutional monopoly to the marijuana industry for a handful of 
individuals without the proper oversight and regulation to protect 
the people of Ohio," Husted said.

Treasurer Josh Mandel said the idea is not good for Ohio, 
particularly employers looking for drug-free workers, while Auditor 
Dave Yost said there should a constitutional ban on ballot issues 
creating monopolies.

"What will we have next? Twelve monopolies for whorehouses in the 12 
largest counties? It's outrageous," Yost said.

ResponsibleOhio is one of two competing legalization campaigns 
pushing to legalize marijuana. The campaign has said its proposal 
would make marijuana safe, controlled and tested, setting up checks 
and balances not unlike those that currently exist for alcoholic beverages.

Responding to the comments made at AP's forum, a ResponsibleOhio 
campaign spokeswoman defended the proposal, saying it would generate 
revenue and create jobs for the state.

"Ohioans deserve a mature, honest conversation about our proposal 
because ultimately, the decision about whether to pass this amendment 
will be made by voters, not politicians," said campaign spokeswoman 
Lydia Bolander.

Legislative leaders also said legalizing marijuana isn't high on 
their to-do lists.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni said Ohio's first step should be 
investing in research on marijuana's potential medicinal benefits.

"Because when you have doctors talking about it. It's different than 
having people on corners trying to get petitions signed," said 
Schiavoni, a Boardman Democrat.

Other highlights from the forum:

DeWine said he's expecting "dramatic" recommendations from an Ohio 
panel tasked with studying possible updates to police training in the 
wake of several recent police shootings nationally. He said he wasn't 
sure when the recommendations were coming.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said she wants to 
encourage voters to participate in judicial races by moving the 
elections to odd years and putting the candidates on the top of the ballots.

O'Connor also called for increasing qualifications for the judiciary. 
Currently, attorneys need six years of practicing law to be appointed 
or elected to the bench.

Husted urged lawmakers to pass legislation to reducing fees 
associated forming a new business to $99 from $125.

DeWine said he is open to the idea of the state having a "drug 
prison" to treat addicted inmates.

Mandel said he will ask local governments, pension funds and 
universities to partner with him to share their spending online. His 
office recently launched an online checkbook that details individual 
state expenses.

Yost called for changes to Ohio law after finding that convicted 
felons could serve as charter school board members. He said current 
law bars those with only felony theft convictions from serving as 
charter school board members.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom