New Ohio law would make 'medical' marijuana legal for all ages

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(REUTERS/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via Reuters)Marijuana plants are seen hanging to dry in an undated handout picture taken in Colorado and released by the U.S. Department of Justice October 8, 2015. Several large marijuana cultivation sites in Colorado that were being used by traffickers to ship the drug to other states have been dismantled by federal agents and state police in the past six weeks, authorities said on Thursday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Christian Examiner) – If a Nov. 3 vote passes to amend the Ohio constitution it will authorize 10 Marijuana Growth, Cultivation and Extraction (MGCE) facilities in a state that one doctor called the "drug capital of the world."

An Oct. 28 debate revealed the state is deeply divided about Issue 3.

Rep. Mike Curtin faced off in debate with Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, which supports Issue 3. Curtin said the state constitution was not a business contract and the amendment legalizing marijuana was both inappropriate and dangerous.

Curtin called Issue 3 "an investor-business driven plan to maximize profits by creating a monopoly ... that has no place in our Ohio Constitution,"according to the Columbus Dispatch. Curtin added approving Issue 3 would "create a monopoly in perpetuity" in Ohio's constitution.

CHILDREN AT RISK

Medical voices were also raised in support of Curtin's position opposing Issue 3.

At a press conference by Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatrician, said Issue 3 gives her concern about minors smoking pot, as well as children under five accidentally ingesting marijuana candy, which would be available for purchase under Issue 3.

"Edible marijuana products are particularly concerning because of their bright colors and likeness to food that a young child is already familiar with," Denny said. "Kids can't assess risk very well."

Jim Joyner, a chemical dependency counselor, concurred that the risk of marijuana abuse is too great to allow Issue 3 to pass. He accused ResponsibleOhio of "using fear and distrust to convince Ohio voters that marijuana is safe. It isn't."

More than half of Americans still oppose marijuana legalization, according to a Feb. 2014 poll by Pew Research Center. More than half (54%) say that legalizing marijuana would lead to more underage people trying it, the data showed. Even over half of people under age 30 agree that legalization would lead to underage marijuana use.

PROPOSAL OF ISSUE 3

The terms of Issue 3, which would add Article XII to the Ohio State Constitution, include some of the following:

  • Endow exclusive rights for commercial marijuana growth, cultivation, and extraction to self-designated landowners who own ten predetermined parcels of land.
  • Legalize the production of marijuana-infused products, including edible products, by marijuana product manufacturing facilities.
  • Permit retail sale of recreational marijuana at approximately 1,100 locations statewide.
  • Allow each person, 21 years of age or older, to, grow, cultivate, use, possess, and share up to eight ounces of usable homegrown marijuana plus four flowering marijuana plants if the person holds a valid state license.
  • Allow each person, 21 years of age or older, to purchase, possess, transport, use, and share up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
  • Authorize the use of medical marijuana by any person, regardless of age, who has a certification for a debilitating medical condition.

Jon Allison, an attorney representing the Drug Free Action Alliance, spoke out against the proposition. "If you put that creators of the Sopranos and Breaking Bad in the same room they couldn't come up with a plot this farfetched," Allison told the Columbus Dispatch, according to the Issue 3 Ballotpedia page.

"[R]ight now it sounds like 10 wannabe drug lords are going to ask Ohio voters to constitutionally protect their cartels and turf," Allison said. "That doesn't sound like anything that could happen in the Ohio I have lived in for almost 50 years. I don't even think the grass-roots medical marijuana true believers in this state will find this appealing."

NO ON 3

Opposition to ResponsibleOhio's proposition include doctors, politicians, attorneys—and police. Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said, "The reports we are hearing from states that have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana are sobering. The percentage of driving fatalities involving marijuana-positive drivers is on the rise in states like Washington, and we would expect to see similar results in Ohio," as quoted in the Crescent-News.

The "No on 3" website lists numerous groups opposed to the amendment, including Ohio's Children's Hospitals, chambers of commerce, faith leaders, every major Ohio daily newspaper, legislators of both major parties, and every statewide elected executive official.

Rep. Curtin called Issue 3 "a prostitution of Ohio's constitution."

Yet a University of Akron Buckeye Poll indicates registered voters are equally divided. The survey conducted in Sept. and Oct. shows 46 percent support Issue 3, 46 percent oppose it, and 8 percent are undecided.