Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jul 2015
Source: Vindicator, The (Youngstown, OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Vindicator
Author: Michele Lepore-Hagan


In response to The Vindicator's editorial last
Tuesday, =93Ohio should slam door on proposed
marijuana cartel,=94 I've decided to paraphrase the
late Daniel Patrick Moynihan: The writer is
entitled to his own opinion, but not his own
facts. Seldom has The Vindicator published an
editorial that so blatantly and purposely
distorts facts and maliciously mischaracterizes
the position of a public official.

To deal with that mischaracterization and
inference The Vindicator draws from it, I want to
be clear. I have long supported the legalization
of marijuana for medical and therapeutic use. The
vast majority of Ohioans =AD 84 percent in the most
recent Quinnipiac Poll =AD agree with me. In 23
states marijuana is approved as a therapy for
more than 60 conditions. I believe the people of
Ohio should have the opportunity to benefit from
these proven-effective treatments.

I also favor legalization for personal use. The
seven decade-old experiment in marijuana
prohibition clearly has failed. Today, more than
30 million Americans, including 1 million
Ohioans, use marijuana every year. It is
estimated that more than 40 percent of all
Americans have tried marijuana at least once and,
between 2009 and 2010 more than 34 percent of
people age 18 to 25 had used in the past month.
Clearly, prohibition does not work.

Along with being ineffective, prohibition is
expensive. Federal, state and local governments
spend billions of dollars each year enforcing
marijuana possession laws =AD $120 million is spent
in Ohio alone. Yet, despite these expenditures,
marijuana is a major component of an illegal
black market that sells drugs to kids and fuels
the very crime The Vindicator cites in its inaccurate editorial.

The editorial also expresses concern that
businesses won't be able to hire qualified
workers if marijuana is legalized. A fact check
proves the paper is, once again, totally wrong.
According to Business Insider, three of the four
states in which marijuana is legal for medicinal
and personal use are among those with the fastest
growing economies in the U.S. Ohio's ranking? Twenty-fifth.

Finally, if The Vindicator wants to criticize my
position on an issue, it should do so based on
facts, not supposition. I have, on the advice of
the Legislative Ethics Commission, recused myself
from the debate over HJR 4 and have not taken a
position on the ResponsibleOhio Amendment. But I
am more than willing to discuss why I believe
legalization under a tightly regulated and highly
taxed regimen is, in concept, the right choice for Ohio.

Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, Youngstown

Democrat Michele Lepore-Hagan is the state
representative for Ohio's 58th District.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom