A registered political action committee in the state of Ohio, Responsible Ohio, is campaigning to end marijuana prohibition. The initiative (Issue 3) failed on November 3, 2015 with 64.1% of voters against and 35.9% of voters for. Speculators believe that the failed attempt at legalization is due to the monopolization aspect of the amendment. The amendment limited commercial growing to a maximum of 10 facilities creating a closed system of marijuana cultivation sites and prevented commercial growers to sell directly to the public. Dave Yost, State Auditor, writes, “A business plan shouldn’t be written into the constitution. A legalized, properly licensed market should be available to all comers, not just the few with the money to enshrine into the Ohio Constitution a monopoly for themselves.”
Mike Newborn speaking on behalf of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio added that another problem of the amendment is that the homegrown licensing requirements are too vague and do not “stopgap to prevent the marijuana industry from preserving profits by limiting the number of licenses.” Advocacy organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project were both also opposed to issue 3 due to its monopoly provisions. To make matters worse, Responsible Ohio used a mascot named Buddy to publicize the initiative, mirroring the mascots used by tobacco corporations (such as Joe Camel) to market to children and young adults.
Overall, the failed initiative is not at loss because it has sparked a debate on how marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed as opposed to IF it should be legalized.
Responsible Ohio has revised its act to include in summary:
1) Home growing, up to 24 plants per person, for up to 4 people per household, and the grower must own the property or have the owner’s permission. Age of the plants is not specified, so clones, seedlings, etc. will count towards the 24.
2) Sales. After $400 / year, the income needs to be reported on tax filings.
3) Commercial production. A license is necessary after earning income equal to the federal standard deduction for a single taxpayer, which is $6,200 this year. Licenses capped @ $1,250 for any single production or retail site.
4) Sales taxes that may be applied. Other excise or “sin” taxes are prohibited.
5) Home growing plant limits for commercial production on residential property, but no limits on properties zoned for agricultural or commercial use.
6) No possessing or smoking on school buses or in correctional facilities. No smoking in any public place that prohibits it.
7) Prohibiting city bans on cultivation and retail establishments. Any such bans must be passed by a vote of the people in order to become / remain law.
8) Drug testing for cannabis metabolites is prohibited for any purposes, and if any are found through medical testing, it still may not be used as proof of current intoxication, since there’s currently no accurate way to determine that.
9) Expungement. Anyone with cannabis related charges that are made legal by our initiative will have an avenue to have those charges removed. If those charges are the only thing keeping them incarcerated or on probation or parole, they will be set free!
10) Affirmative defense for juveniles and their parents so that they are free to give their kids a safer, more effective medicine.
11) Protections for parental, property, and gun rights, among other protections.
12) Allowing farmers to grow HEMP! Ohio can become a booming epicenter for hemp production and manufacturing again! This one should be #1, but we thought we’d save the best for last! Hemp can revolutionize so many industries, revitalize the economy, and restore our environment, all while reducing or eliminating our dependency on oil! ”
Written by Mariana Aguilera