By Wayne Allen
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced that ResponsibleOhio has collected enough valid signatures to put the Marijuana Legalization Amendment on the November 2015 ballot. Locally, the Scioto County Commissioners have voiced opposition to the initiative.
According to released information, if approved by Ohio voters the amendment would legalize marijuana for medical use and personal use by adults 21 and older.
“I hate it. It (the drug addiction problem) has gotten worse. We thought we had a drug problem back in the (19)70’s, we did not have a drug problem, we’ve got a drug problem now,” said Mike Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners. “There’s been more dollars spent nationwide to fight the drug problem and it’s gotten progressively worse.”
Crabtree then questioned what can be done to make the situation better.
“I don’t think anyone has the answer to that,” he said.
If the ResponsibleOhio initiative is approved by Ohio voters, Scioto County would be home to a marijuana testing facility, with similar facilities scattered throughout the state.
“When it comes to these marijuana testing facilities, I don’t really see a great deal of benefit in that, because they have studied that stuff for years what are they going to check now,” Crabtree said.
Scioto County Commissioner Doug Coleman also questioned the purpose of a marijuana testing facility.
“I think they should build more penitentiaries and lock them all up,” Coleman said. “They may try to rehabilitate them, but it’s not working that well.”
To place the measure on the ballot ResponsibleOhio collect signatures from 77 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Next, the Ohio Ballot Board will meet on August 18 to determine the amendment’s ballot language and issue number.
“My position is very clear and has been from day one. I keep hearing this statement no one has died from smoking marijuana. I can argue that real simple, go find a family here in Scioto County whose son, daughter, husband or wife was the victim of a drugged-driving accident and ask them how they feel about it,” said Scioto Commissioner Bryan Davis. “Look at the statistics coming out of the states that have legalized it (marijuana). There’s your argument, drug-driving deaths have now exceeded drunk driving deaths and we’re basically picking our poison here.”
If approved by Ohio voters the amendment would call for the product to be taxed at 15 percent. Of the tax revenue ,55 percent would go to cities, villages, and townships on a per capita basis, 30 percent would be distributed to counties on a per capita basis and 15 percent would finance a new state commission to regulate and license the industry, new nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, mental health and addiction programs, and related research by Ohio universities and nonprofit organizations.
Earlier this year ResponsibleOhio released a report detailing how much money Ohio and local communities could receive if the initiative would be approved by Ohio voters.
The report shows that the legal marijuana industry would produce $554 million in new annual tax revenue for Ohio once the market stabilizes in 2020. County and local governments would receive $476 million, with the remaining $78 million going toward programs such as addiction prevention services, compassionate care for medical patients, regulation enforcement, and research on marijuana.
ResponsibleOhio compiled a similar report for each county in Ohio. It’s estimated Scioto County would receive $1,277,074 annually. Municipalities in Scioto County would receive $1,924,923. In total $3,201,997 would come to Scioto County.
For more information about ResponsibleOhio visit, responsibleohio.com.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT