The official voting day for Ohioans is Nov. 7, but early voting has already begun on Oct. 11. This is a significant year for cannabis because a cannabis legalization measure, which is labeled as Issue 2, is appearing on the ballot. However, some legislators are not thrilled with the idea that cannabis legalization could be approved, and announced plans to possibly repeal the law if it does get passed.
Senate President Matt Huffman spoke on the Senate floor in opposition of SR-216, stating that it will be “coming right back before this body” and will likely receive changes. “We’re going to have a mental health crisis on our hands,” Huffman said, if voters approve Issue 2. “We are going to pay for this for years and years and years, and it’s only going to get worse.” He added that he will push to review and repeal parts of the bill if it gets passed.
“If Issue 2 passes, there will be more teenagers in the state of Ohio committing suicide,” Huffman said. “And our reaction to that will not be, ‘Let’s make marijuana illegal,’ because by that time, more people will be making lots of money. It will be, ‘Maybe we should hire drug counselors, get into the schools, talk about kids not taking drugs.’ But by then it will be too late. It’ll be even more part of our culture. And no, I’m not a scientist, but I’m a person who can look at facts and listen to scientists and know that that’s true.”
Just as early voting began last week, Republican Sen. Mark Romanchuk and Rep. Terry Johnson, along with 14 other cosponsors, introduced Senate Resolution 216, claiming all of the potential harms that legalization will bring if voters choose to vote and approve Issue 2.
“…The proposed statute authored by the commercial marijuana industry does not serve the best interests of the people of Ohio, will bring unacceptable threats and risks to the health of all Ohioans, especially children, will create dangers in the workplace and unacceptable challenges and costs to employers, will make Ohio’s roads more dangerous, will impose significant new, unfunded costs to Ohio’s public social services, and serves only to advance the financial interests of the commercial marijuana industry and its investors…,” the bill text stated.
Many of the points of concern in the bill have long been used by anti-cannabis supporters, such as calling cannabis a gateway drug that leads four of our 10 people to try other drugs, and that cannabis use leads to opioid use disorder. While it claims that drug overdoses are the “leading cause of injury and death” in the state, with an estimated 33,000 Ohioans having died due to drug overdoses between 2011-2020, state records for COVID-19 deaths are recorded at over 42,000.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the top 10 leading causes of death in 2017 for Ohioans was heart disease, cancer, accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu/pneumonia, kidney disease, and septicemia.
The resolution also included claims that regular cannabis use “can irreversibly reduce intelligence, memory, and learning ability,” along with claims that underage cannabis use causes risks of academic performance, IQ, and behavior, and that cannabis in adolescence leads to risks of “psychosis, a severe mental disorder characterized by distorted thinking and loss of touch with reality, as well as depression and suicide.”
They conclude the bill text by stating that they urge voters to reject Issue 2 to “preserve and protect our state’s high quality of life, the health and safety of our citizens, the strength and prosperity of our communities, our strong economic growth, our favorable environment for business success, and opportunity for all citizens and the future for our young people…”
The campaign group submitted nearly 130,000 signatures to get Issue 2 onto the ballot, after first coming up short of the necessary 124,046. “It looks like we came up a little short in this first phase, but now we have 10 days to find just 679 voters to sign a supplemental petition—this is going to be easy, because a majority of Ohioans support our proposal to regulate and tax adult use marijuana,” said Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMA) spokesperson Tom Haren.
A recent poll from the CRMA, which is the same advocates group behind the initiative, found that three out of every five Ohioans plan to support the measure come November. A similar poll conducted in September 2020 showed that voters said they were “29% “strongly approving” and 34% “somewhat approving” (63% total) compared to this year’s results with “50% strongly approving” and “17% somewhat approving” (67% total).
Recent projections from Ohio State University show that the state could generate somewhere between $275 million to $403 million in recreational tax revenue by the fifth year of legalization. (Full Story)