Pubdate: Tue, 18 Aug 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


Two photos speak volumes about the fledgling campaign opposing 
marijuana legalization in Ohio.

A picture of a child's hand reaching into a jar for a tempting gummy 
hints at the daunting possibility that kids might eat cookies and 
candy laced with marijuana, with resulting serious health effects.

The second photo, an adult's hand slipping a $100 bill into a suit 
pocket, hits proponents for seeking to carve a moneymaking marijuana 
monopoly into the Ohio Constitution.

Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, the coalition opposing the 
Issue 3 marijuana-legalization ballot issue, will need all the 
imagery it can get. The opposition campaign is a mile wide in terms 
of supporters but an inch deep in financial resources.

The contrast will be sharp, as ResponsibleOhio expects to spend up to 
$20 million on a campaign to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal use.

Quiet for months, marijuana-legalization opponents finally came out 
in force on Monday at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where a 
coalition of politicians and medical, mental-health, clergy and 
business leaders strongly denounced the November pot issue.

Curt Steiner, a seasoned political consultant from Columbus and 
spokesman for the opposition, called ResponsibleOhio's plan "an 
extreme radical proposal."

Steiner declined to say how much money the coalition expects to raise 
or whether it will be able to afford television commercials.

Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatric physician at Nationwide, started the 
assault on the proposal, saying that marijuana edibles - which would 
be allowed in Ohio if the issue passes - are a particular concern to 
medical professionals because of the dangerous health effects they 
can pose when ingested by toddlers and young children. The possible 
effects include breathing difficulty, seizures and comas.

"As those of you who have had toddlers know, the way they learn their 
surroundings is by trying to put everything in their mouth," she 
said, adding that marijuana in edible form "is not safe."

Former Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery slammed 
ResponsibleOhio's campaign for "purchasing a franchise in the Ohio 
Constitution. It's an appalling abuse of the process."

The marijuana issue will appear third among statewide issues on the 
Nov. 3 ballot, behind legislative redistricting and anti-monopoly 
amendments proposed by the General Assembly. The Ohio Ballot Board 
will meet today to work out crucial wording for the ballot issues.

The Rev. Benjamin F. Gohlstin Sr. of Heritage Institutional Baptist 
Church in Cleveland criticized the "corrosive effect" of a group of 
wealthy business people who want to make money "regardless of the 
impact on people, our community, and especially our children."

Opponents stressed that the amount of marijuana each Ohio adult could 
possess would be nearly 9 ounces - an ounce of commercial marijuana 
and 8 ounces of home-grown - enough for hundreds of joints. They also 
blasted "marijuana on every corner," a reference to the proposed 
1,150 retail sellers of marijuana and marijuana products, which is 
more than the number of McDonald's restaurants and Starbucks coffee 
shops combined in Ohio.

ResponsibleOhio's plan involves 10 designated growing sites, owned 
exclusively by investors. There also would be a subsidized 
medical-dispensary system for medicinal marijuana. Sales would be 
taxed at all levels, with the proceeds mostly going to local government.

"Our opposition is stuck on the status quo of 'Just Say No,' while 
ResponsibleOhio is coming up with constructive solutions," 
ResponsibleOhio Director Ian James said in a statement. "Their 
unfortunate stance means they're protecting drug dealers who don't 
pay taxes, care about sick people, create legitimate jobs or check kids' IDs."

The group announced a "Green Rush" bus tour on Monday that will hit 
college campuses and all 88 counties before the Nov. 3 election. The 
group brought its brightgreen bus emblazoned with marijuana leaves to 
the Statehouse.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom