Issue 2 Passed: What Now?

Ohio Issue 2: A Pivotal Decision

Ohioans face a critical vote as they consider the potential legalization of recreational marijuana through an upcoming 50-page ballot initiative that so blatantly ignores public safety and protections for kids. While Big Marijuana touts tax revenue generation and historical inequity it’s essential to evaluate these minimal effects in a state that already has robust medical marijuana commerce and where personal recreational possession and use is decriminalized.

Opponents of the initiative, including Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, the Ohio Academy of Pediatricians, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians and the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Association, to name a few, emphasize the tragic adverse effects of very badly regulated sales in states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.

Increased Supply, Potency and Underage Use:

Of primary concern is increased supply to kids. The complete absence of guardrails to prevent enticement, predatory marketing and underage sales puts our vulnerable adolescents at high risk. And with households permitted to grow up to 12 plants of very high potency marijuana, one person using legally grown marijuana can easily supply an entire neighborhood including teenagers. Legalizing recreational marijuana in other states has led to a substantial rise in underage abuse and addiction. We shouldn’t take this generational risk.

Edible Marijuana and Child Safety:

States that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen a proliferation of heavily promoted, brightly colored and candy flavored gummies, cookies, brownies and even sweet drinks that are dangerously enticing to toddlers and seductive for all kids. THC poisonings in kids under six have risen from about 200 to more than 3000 per year. This poses a severe safety risk and could lead to devastating consequences for families across the state. The ballot initiative offers zero protection from candy look-alikes, and no labeling or packaging requirements.

Highway Safety:

States with recreational marijuana have had substantially increased rates of highway crashes and deaths due to drug impaired drivers. Almost unbelievably, the confusing 50-page ballot initiative specifically limits law enforcement officers from doing field sobriety tests on potentially impaired drivers. This yet another example of a wildly unbalanced proposal.

Potential Impact on Substance Abuse:

Ohio’s proposed initiative is estimated to bring in $270 million in taxes. This represents about 0.2% of combined state and local taxes, or about $23 annually per resident. On the other hand, the opioid epidemic costs Ohio $73 billion every year. Recreational marijuana states have about double the rate of marijuana addiction (cannabis substance abuse disorder) with greater prevalence among kids and young adults.

Negligible Social Equity Outcomes:

Ohio has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. While the initiative aims to fund a “cannabis social equity and jobs program,” the principal goal of that program is to have more minorities involved in the marijuana business!! Big Marijuana argues it will benefit communities adversely impacted by past marijuana-related laws, but driving more drugs into any of our communities seems an unlikely benefit.

Foxes and the Henhouse:

The initiative would establish the “Division of Cannabis Control” to ostensibly license and regulate marijuana operators and facilities. In other states, Big Marijuana plays an outsized role in “regulating” itself and prioritizing industry interests over public health and community well-being. The ballot initiative prevents local authorities from taxing or regulating stores in their jurisdiction. THC is a drug with serious risks to kids and society as a whole. It is best regulated not by those selling for profit, but rather by the Board of Pharmacy and local health departments.

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