Responsible Ohio, a group seeking to legalize marijuana in Ohio, has developed a plan they are hoping to present to Ohio voters next year. The plan calls for 10 designated grower operations around the state that would provide the marijuana for retail outlets. The proposal has generated strong reaction from some of Ohio’s political leaders.
“It’s a stupid idea!” declared Attorney General Mike DeWine. State Auditor Dave Yost was particularly colorful in his description of the proposal, which he labeled a monopoly. “What will we have next? Twelve monopolies for whorehouses in the 12 largest counties? It’s outrageous.”
Secretary of State Jon Husted was less graphic but no less firm in his opinion. “It is offensive to think that we would be asked to give a constitutional monopoly to the marijuana industry for a handful of individuals without the proper oversight and regulation to protect the people of Ohio,” said Husted.
The actual details of the proposal are not the issue here. Those interested can review the proposal at www.responsibleohio.com/. The issue is leadership by Ohio’s top elected officials.
Polls continue to show that a wide majority of Ohioans support drug law reform with 82% supporting medical marijuana in a poll last year. In the face of this, rather than calling the Responsible Ohio proposal “stupid” or equating it to a legal whorehouse, one might expect to hear what steps Mr. DeWine and his colleagues are proposing to address marijuana reform. Unfortunately, all you would hear is crickets.
Husted’s question about “oversight and regulation to protect the people of Ohio” is a good starting point for discussion. Currently, drug traffickers are in charge of oversight and regulation of the marijuana market. It’s the traffickers who control what goes in the drug, potency, where and when they will sell it, legal age, what the cost will be, etc. We’ve used legal regulation and oversight to control beverage alcohol since the disastrous prohibition experience of the 1920s. While no one would claim the system is perfect, we no longer have people killing each other over moonshine. Is it not reasonable to believe government regulation will be as effective with marijuana, a drug the National Institute on Health recently declared 114 times LESS harmful than alcohol.
What is really stupid is the continuation of a failed 40-year War on Drugs. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some politicians continue to cling to the prohibition rhetoric of the 1970’s. The number one outcome of our current marijuana policy is enrichment of the drug cartels. The citizens of Ohio expect leadership on drug issues and name-calling and ridicule of those who actually put forth proposals does nothing to move us forward.