Pubdate: Wed, 09 Sep 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


Attorney General Mike DeWine defended the Ohio Ballot Board summary 
of a marijuana-legalization proposal, saying it gives voters a "plain 
speak" description of a "supersized amendment."

DeWine's filing with the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday said the board 
took ResponsibleOhio's complicated and lengthy amendment and fairly 
condensed it to "a digestible, comprehensible format." The overall 
amendment is so wordy, DeWine said, that it would increase the total 
length of the Ohio Constitution by more than 10 percent.

ResponsibleOhio, the group proposing legalizing marijuana for Ohioans 
age 21 or older, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 27 in the Ohio Supreme Court 
claiming wording on Issue 3 would "mislead, deceive or defraud voters."

Attorney Andy Douglas, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice who 
represents the marijuana group, complained about what he said is 
prejudicial language, deliberate omissions and outright falsehoods in 
the Ballot Board summary. He asked the court to order the language 
redone or to use a different summary done by DeWine's office in March.

In addition to DeWine's 123-page legal response, attorneys 
representing businesses, hospitals, farmers and a pro-marijuana group 
filed "friend of the court" briefs.

A major thrust of DeWine's argument focused on the sheer volume of 
the for-profit marijuana proposal. He said that if ResponsibleOhio is 
successful in persuading the court to approve a longer summary for 
the Nov. 3 ballot, it would cost taxpayers dearly.

An affidavit from J. Patrick McDonald, director of the Cuyahoga 
County Board of Elections, said using a longer summary would require 
an additional ballot card, costing the board "approximately $200,000 
in printing alone."

The Ballot Board summary, DeWine said, "does not adopt the favorable 
spin they (ResponsibleOhio) want to put on their proposal to 
encourage its passage. ... The Ballot Board has no obligation to 
incorporate the tactical choices and persuasive bent the proponents 
of an amendment advocate."

A filing by the National Federal of Independent Business Ohio, Ohio 
Chamber of Commerce, Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Children's 
Hospital Association and Ohioans to End Prohibition further battered 
arguments made by ResponsibleOhio.

The brief said the Ballot Board's use of the word recreational in 
reference to individual use of marijuana was an "eminently reasonable 
and fair way to describe nonmedical use of marijuana." That 
description is supported, the groups added, by ResponsibleOhio's use 
of a costumed mascot, "Buddie," on college campuses. Buddie has a 
large marijuana bud for a head and is dressed like a superhero.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said its members "particularly are 
concerned about the monopolizing effect of the proposal, which limits 
the ability to produce a product to only one group of people and 
enshrines that right into the Ohio Constitution."

The issue must be decided quickly because the ballot has to be 
finalized and printed before Oct. 6, when Ohioans begin voting in 
person and by mail.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom