CLEVELAND – In two weeks, you will decide at the polls whether to legalize marijuana in Ohio.
So, do you know exactly what you’ll be deciding?
Supporters say a “yes” vote means you’ll be voting to control what’s already here.
“Marijuana prohibition has failed,” says Ian James, the Executive Director of Responsible Ohio, the group behind the legalization push.
“You can get marijuana delivered to your door faster than you can a pizza,” he says, “so we need to regulate, test, and tax marijuana.
But opponents says legalization would increase use of pot among teens, and lead to more people being addicted to drugs.
And they also question the way the proposal would limit who could grow pot for legal sale in Ohio.
“It’s a very greedy group of people, frankly, who are doing this,” says Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Issue 3 asks voters to approve three basic items:
1) to legalize both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana in Ohio for adults 21 and older;
2) to allow adults to grow up to four plants for personal use;
3) to limit the number of entities that can grow marijuana for legal sale to ten pre-designated groups and sites.
Those groups that would control those sites spread across Ohio each put up about $2 million dollars apiece to fund the campaign to legalize marijuana.
“There’s no price-fixing, we’re not going to behave like a cartel, and if we do, our licenses will be taken away from us,” says Woody Taft, one of the “Responsible Ohio” investors.
Taft adds that he is taking a lot of risk, and if voters approve Issue 3, “All that entitles me to do is to start in a new industry that will be created here in Ohio.”
But DeWine counters by asking, “Why do you want to create a situation where a small number of people make all the money?”
Supporters say a lot of people can make money if a new industry is created. They say up to 1,000 retail pot stores could open across Ohio, creating up to 10,000 new jobs, and generating millions in tax revenue.
“We regulate the marijuana, we test the marijuana, and we tax the marijuana,” says James.
The Ohio Legislature put a competing issue on the ballot. If passed, Issue 2 seeks to outlaw all so-called “economic” amendments that seek to limit competition – such as what Issue 3 does by limiting, at least initially, who could grow marijuana for legal sale.
It is unclear what will happen if voters approve both measures.
“Responsible Ohio” says all that’s certain is, if both measure pass, the issue will wind up in court as to whether pot will be legal in Ohio or not.