Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2015
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2015 Dayton Daily News
Author: Brice Keller


Editor's note: A group called ResponsibleOhio is proposing a state 
constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana and allow 10 
Ohio sites owned and operated by investor groups to grow it. 
ResponsibleOhio is pushing to get their measure on the November ballot.

Today, we hear from ResponsibleOhio as well as from Drug Free Action 
Alliance, an Ohio nonprofit whose mission is to help prevent 
substance abuse. We also hear from some of our readers about 
legalizing marijuana. - Connie Post

ResponsibleOhio: A common-sense approach to ending marijuana prohibition

For the past year, ResponsibleOhio has been drafting a constitutional 
amendment to legalize marijuana in Ohio for medical and personal use 
by adults 21 and older. The result is the 2015 Marijuana Legalization 
Amendment, which ResponsibleOhio hopes to put before the voters for 
approval in November.

The amendment is an effort to smother the black market, bring new 
revenue to our communities, and ensure that marijuana is safe, legal 
and affordable. Ohio spends $120 million each year to enforce 
marijuana prohibition. Despite that, if you want marijuana, it's not 
tough to find. It's already available in our communities, but not in 
a way that's safe or beneficial - users have no idea what they're 
really consuming, and the state isn't getting any revenue from it. 
This system is broken and must be replaced with one that works for Ohio.

Marijuana prohibition has failed, just like alcohol prohibition did. 
The truth is marijuana, just like alcohol, can be used safely by 
responsible adults. It also provides proven medical benefits to those 
with certain debilitating conditions. For example, medical marijuana 
can reduce Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms by 75 
percent, according to the National Institute of Health and the 
National Center for the Treatment of PTSD. Nevertheless, Ohio 
veterans currently do not have legal access to this valuable treatment.

ResponsibleOhio's proposal is a vast improvement over the wasted 
dollars and wasted lives created by failed prohibition. The 2015 
Marijuana Legalization Amendment focuses on achieving two goals: 
smothering the black market and replacing it with a marijuana market 
that would be safe and tightly regulated. Through reasonable taxation 
and regulation, Ohio's communities will receive significant revenues. 
They will also benefit from the thousands of jobs created through 
this new, legal market. It's just smart public policy to convert the 
current illegal, unregulated, and untaxed marijuana market into one 
that's legal, regulated and taxed. That's what this amendment will do.

The amendment creates a three-tiered commercial system. Tier one 
consists of a minimum of 10 facilities where marijuana will be grown. 
This is only a minimum - the Marijuana Control Commission would be 
able to add additional sites for growing marijuana if consumer demand 
isn't met, or if any of these facilities violate regulations 
established by the amendment. And individual Ohioans who choose not 
to buy or sell marijuana would be able to grow it at home for their 
own personal use. By definition, this system is not a monopoly. In 
fact, there will be competition among the companies to provide 
consumers with a superior product, and if they fall short, other 
locations can be added.

The second tier is a wide-open marijuana product manufacturing market 
for small businesses, entrepreneurs and anyone with a good idea. This 
market will consist of a wide array of businesses conducting the 
testing, processing and production of marijuana-infused products. 
Licensed retail stores and not-for-profit medical marijuana 
dispensaries make up the system's third tier.

Once the market is operating at full capacity, there could be as many 
as 1,600 second- and thirdtier facilities, all of which could be 
owned and operated by any Ohioan who passes a background check. At 
each level of the supply chain, every facility will be subject to 
strict rules and regulations, and can have its license revoked for 
failing to follow these rules and regulations. With strict oversight 
and heavy penalties for those who violate the law, the 2015 Marijuana 
Legalization Amendment will bring lasting marijuana reform to Ohio 
while creating thousands of jobs.

This policy will not only win public support in November, it will 
make our state safer and more prosperous. A recent Quinnipiac 
University poll shows that in Colorado the public is even more 
supportive of marijuana legalization today than when voters passed it in 2012.

Reforming marijuana laws is an urgent priority. Too many lives are 
being wasted and ruined through failed prohibition policies. 
Marijuana legalization can and will work for Ohio if we give it a 
chance. The 2015 Marijuana Legalization Amendment is the wisest path forward.

Written by Brice Keller, a Dayton attorney. He is a volunteer for the 
ResponsibleOhio effort, but is not being paid by the campaign.

Drug Free Action Alliance: The fine print with marijuana

Remember to read the fine print. Those six simple words have been a 
rule that most have learned to follow in life. When someone is trying 
to sell something or have a person enter into a contract, the value 
and benefits that one gets is always highlighted. However, the truth 
always lies within the fine print - and sometimes that value that one 
thinks is being received turns out to cost much more than they ever imagined.

This is the case with the marijuana ballot initiative that could be 
on the ballot in Ohio in 2015 and, if passed, would be in Ohio's 
State Constitution. Many promises have been made by the creators of 
this selfserving scheme, but money and greed are at the heart of this 
ill-conceived plan.

In the coming months, Ohio is going to be fed many tales of the need 
to legalize marijuana; however, we have examples from the state of 
Colorado that show that there are many consequences that are being 
felt by businesses, law enforcement and general public health and 
safety. Even state leaders in Colorado have conceded that marijuana 
legalization has been a disaster, with Colorado Gov. John 
Hickenlooper calling it "reckless" and Colorado Attorney General 
Cynthia Coffman telling other states that marijuana legalization is 
"not worth it" after bringing in far less tax revenue than expected. 
She went on to say, "Don't buy that argument. The criminals are still 
selling on the black market. ... We have plenty of cartel activity in 
Colorado (and) plenty of illegal activity that has not decreased at all."

The troubling "fine print" that lies within the marijuana initiative 
is the ability to keep our roads and workplaces safe. Although the 
pro-pot advocates will claim that they are protecting businesses, the 
fine print proves otherwise. In the December 2012 edition, Business 
Insider magazine takes a closer look at Washington State's issues 
with impairment on the roads and the lack of a constitutionally-legal 
measure, which is causing headaches for law enforcement officers 
trying to keep the roads safe. In Colorado, although overall traffic 
fatalities have declined since 2006, the number of traffic fatalities 
where drivers have had marijuana in their system has doubled in that 
same time, according to the Colorado Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The workplace, as well, has experienced unforeseen impacts as 
employers and managers have an obligation to keep the workplace safe 
and productive, yet are being sued for trying to enforce a drug-free workplace.

We will hear from propot advocates that legalizing this drug would 
lead to reduced rates of marijuana use by youth; however, looking at 
the fine print in Denver tells a different story. Recent surveys have 
shown that Denver's eighth-grade students' marijuana use rate is 350 
percent higher than the national average for youth the same age. This 
is especially troubling considering that studies from Duke 
University, Northwestern University and the United Kingdom are 
showing links to marijuana use in adolescence to later psychosis and 
other mentalhealth issues later in life.

Finally, let's remember that legalization is not a justice issue, but 
it is about commercialization and greed, creating a market owned by a 
few already wealthy individuals who will promise others riches, but 
deliver little to anyone but themselves. Even pro-legalization 
advocates have come out in opposition to this scheme, calling it a 
"monopoly" and a "cartel." All products, including edibles like 
marijuana lollipops, candies and gummy bears that are causing 
poisonings in children in Colorado, will be controlled and protected 
by a handful of individuals.

The fine print in these pro-pot ballot initiatives are having 
devastating effects on businesses, roadways, children and general 
public safety in states across the nation. Don't be sold on a 
picture, a phrase or something that seems to be too good to be true. 
Instead, look at the fine print and don't let Ohio get into something 
that is nothing more than buyer's remorse.

 From our readers: Only a matter of time

It is only a matter of time until marijuana is legalized - and what's 
more, I think it is only a matter of time until even "harder" drugs 
are legalized as well. Sooner or later it will dawn on our leaders 
that in a country like America, where most people have plentiful 
money and prosecuting citizens has intentionally been made as 
difficult as possible to prevent repression, the people will get what 
they want, one way or another.

The War on Drugs has hardly made a dent in the consumption of 
narcotics and has only channeled vast amounts of money into the hands 
of organized crime and left the United States with a higher share of 
its population behind bars than any other country on earth.

The main obstacle to this inevitable course of events is that 
Americans are uniquely reluctant to admit that their country ever 
makes major mistakes (in this case, treating drug addiction as a 
crime rather than an illness), because we like to think of the USA as 
the best country in the world, and therefore one which wouldn't 
blunder so thoroughly. It's easier to deny the problem exists than to 
solve it. - RON RODENBURG

Non-user supports legalization

I firmly believe that marijuana should be legalized with 
restrictions. I have seen first-hand how it helps cancer patients 
handle their pain and nausea, I know individuals with anxiety issues 
that their regular prescribed meds don't help but marijuana does ... 
there aren't any side effects that I am aware of and I haven't heard 
of anyone who overdosed on it.

I also don't believe it is a gateway drug. To me, alcohol is a bigger 
drug than marijuana would ever be. Alcohol has devastating side 
effects and can lead to harmful behavior. I am a Democrat 55-yearold 
female who doesn't smoke it, but I do not see the harm in it. In 
saying all this, anyone under 21 should not be have access unless 
medically necessary, and it should be tightly regulated. - BECKI BLANCHARD

Ohio may take time on issue

Pot will be legal, sooner or later. It never should have been a class 
one narcotic as it was classified during the Nixon administration. 
Ohio probably will not accept the idea, right away. I recall when 
bingo was illegal and when lottery tickets were first introduced. It 
takes longer in Ohio. - DON VAN DYKE

Current laws don't work

If a law could prevent the use of marijuana, I would be for it, but 
the laws in place simply do not work. All the system does is allow a 
very profitable market place to exist for the murderous drug cartels. 
Allow the regulated sale of marijuana where the product could be 
monitored so no hazardous chemicals can be added and sell it at a 
price below the street market price.

Any tax revenue generated can be used for education on the dangers of 
all recreational drugs. The regulated sale of marijuana will then 
take away a valuable source of revenue for the cartels. If anyone 
thinks the current laws are of any value, take a survey of the kids 
in your local high school. Most will tell you where pot is readily 
available. We must learn from the debacle that was prohibition. - DON LOHREY

Concern for children

While visiting Seattle, Wash., last year, I was appalled by the 
number of people in a city waterfront park who were legally smoking 
marijuana. You could smell it a block away. How would I have 
explained that to my 9-year-old grandson if he were with me? - STAN REED

Changing times, changing views

I am a baby boomer and we were told how evil this stuff is and it 
will lead to harder or more dangerous drugs. As time passes people 
can and will see the true facts good or bad. Younger people see 
what's going on around them and they are more likely to accept marijuana.

Younger people are more liberal in their thinking which tends to lean 
toward democratic more than conservative thinking. As for me, I am a 
libertarian and think no one has the right to dictate what a person 
does as long as it harms no one. How people see this as a criminal 
offense and not a health issue is beyond me.

For all those people out there that say marijuana is a gateway drug 
that leads to harder drugs, I am curious how many people drank 
alcohol before they tried marijuana. - TOM DAVIS

Considering the consequences

My question to those screaming for legalization are: Would you choose 
someone testing positive on a drug screen to drive your child to 
school, provide transportation to your work, fly an airplane, work on 
a construction site, perform medical procedures, repair your home, or 
manage your retirement account?

The consequences of legalization are:

Unemployment for those who smoke recreationally, failing drug screens.

A state that is unattractive to potential employers/investors because 
employee pools pose safety/liability risks in failing drug screens.

More clients for Cannabis Dependency Treatment in the 12- to 
24-yearold age group where pot is already the primary drug of choice 
in 78 percent of the clients. (treatment stats for 2013-2014.)

More chronic diseases development due to early and prolonged pot usage.

In conclusion, there is no comparison to the legalization of alcohol 
because one joint may cause a positive test for weeks, bonding to the 
fat in the body. By contrast, alcohol bonds to nothing and a bottle 
of beer disappears in an hour. - RON WEAN

More things to consider

Any responsible business will not hire or retain employees who use 
drugs, including pot! Would you want an automobile assembly-line 
employee high on pot working on your car? What if a nurse about to 
insert an IV in you had been using drugs? How about a Greyhound bus 
driver using pot at the rest stop? Or the pharmacist employee filling 
your prescription after a smoke break?

Has anyone considered the increase in cancer cases if pot is 
legalized? What are people thinking when they favor legalization? - LEW WATERS
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom