Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jun 2015
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Cincinnati Enquirer
Author: Chris Stock
Note: Chris Stock is a Cincinnati attorney and the principal author 
of the ResponsibleOhio amendment.


There are some misperceptions about how marijuana legalization has 
rolled out in Colorado, as shown in the op-ed "Legal pot? Look at 
Colorado before leaping" (May 15). Anderson Township resident John M. 
Kunst Jr., who spends considerable time in Colorado, makes a number 
of off-base claims about the situation there since the 2012 passage 
of an initiative legalizing marijuana. As principal author of 
ResponsibleOhio's ballot initiative, which if passed by Ohio voters 
this fall would legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal, I 
offer these point-by-point responses.

Kunst: In Colorado "the black market appears to be thriving because 
legal weed is not cheap: $200 an ounce plus sales and huge excise taxes."

ResponsibleOhio's response: According to, a 
crowd-sourced marijuana pricing site on which a prominent RAND 
Corporation study recently relied, the average black market price of 
marijuana in Colorado is $218.91 per ounce, higher than the 
"expensive" retail price that Kunst claims is driving Colorado buyers 
to the black market. Colorado's black market accounts for just 5 
percent of all the marijuana purchased there  not enough market share 
to be considered "thriving," especially since marijuana stores have 
only been open in Colorado since January.

Kunst: The benefits flowing from marijuana sales into Colorado's 
state coffers "may be short lived as word gets out that you can't 
carry weed back home through the airport."

ResponsibleOhio's response: There is no evidence that sales of 
marijuana in Colorado are decreasing. More than $42.7 million of 
marijuana was purchased for personal use in Colorado retail stores 
during March, the most recent month for which data are available. 
These totals exceeded the previous records set in February ($39.1 
million) and January ($36.4 million).

Kunst: In 2014 "out-of-state applications to the University of 
Colorado jumped over 30,000."

ResponsibleOhio's response: It's difficult to imagine admissions 
departments at Ohio's colleges and universities complaining about 
such a sharp increase in applications.

Kunst: "Fearing a disaster, the [Colorado] Legislature and local 
governments have gone to great pains to regulate this new industry 
from seed to smoke. The regulations are impressive and understandably 
burdensome, but there is insufficient manpower to assure compliance."

ResponsibleOhio's response: Our amendment provides more funding for 
enforcement than Colorado's or any other state's marijuana 
initiative. Fifteen percent of the special taxes the State collects 
from growers, product manufacturers, and licensed retail stores will 
fund the Ohio Marijuana Control Commission's enforcement efforts, 
ensuring it will have sufficient money to enforce the law and its own 
regulations. In addition, it will have only 10 grow facilities to 
monitor, versus the more than 1,000 legal grow facilities spread 
throughout Colorado. A recent Rand study identified 10 grow sites as 
among the best ways to supply marijuana in a legal commercial market.

Kunst: "Edibles have caused tragic adult and children deaths."

ResponsibleOhio's response: This is a baseless statement, fast 
becoming an urban legend. According to 2011 epidemiological study, 
"The acute toxicity of cannabis is very low. There are no confirmed 
cases of human deaths from cannabis poisoning in the world medical 
literature." A person would have to use over 10,000 times the average 
dose to approach a toxic dose.

Kunst: In Colorado, "traditional zoning restrictions are being 
amended to allow the establishment of these operations 'next door' or 
in the neighborhood  a plus for the new business but a threat to 
property values."

ResponsibleOhio's response: Our amendment eliminates this risk by (1) 
prohibiting marijuana grow facilities and retail marijuana stores 
within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, libraries, playgrounds, and 
day-care centers, (2) limiting the number of grow facilities to 10 
(versus the more than 1,000 currently operating in Colorado), and (3) 
requiring approval of all retail marijuana store locations by 
neighborhood residents through "local option" elections.

Kunst: "Recently, it has been discovered that unregulated pesticides 
and fungicides are winding up in joints and being ingested by smokers."

ResponsibleOhio's response: Our amendment limits cultivation of 
marijuana for sale in Ohio to 10 heavily regulated producers, whose 
grow operations would be subject to state inspections 24/7, and 
requires the Marijuana Control Commission to adopt strict regulations 
to ensure the safety and reliability of marijuana grown and sold in this state.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom