By Frank Lewis
Local law enforcement executives are leaving no question as to where they stand on Issue 3. The measure, if approved by Ohio voters this November, would legalize the limited sale and use of marijuana and create 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow the drug.
“I have several concerns, but I look at it primarily for the social harm,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “Most people obey the law because there’s consequences to engaging in illegal activity. If marijuana is legalized kids will look at it as, it must be okay because its legal.” He said they don’t look beyond legality to what consequences occur.
Ware said his fear is that certain segments of the population have a susceptibility to addiction.
“There’s plenty of people that can go out and have a few drinks three or four times a week and never become an alcoholic,” Ware said. “There’s a certain segment of our population that can not do that. There’s a certain segment of our population that can go out and gamble tonight and not be addicted and can quit after they spend $10 or $20. There’s a certain segment of our population that can’t do that and you could go on and on and on.”
Ware said while one can dispute what might come of things in Ohio should Issue 3 pass, but he said there is no disputing reports out of states where marijuana is already legal.
“Everybody sees the tax revenue generated and the fact that law enforcement will have less work to do, less laws to enforce,” Ware said. “But is that really true? I’ve talked to heroin addicts and I never met one that didn’t start on alcohol or marijuana. Most people that choose to use drugs are escaping some unhappiness. They want to feel good. But there comes a point when alcohol doesn’t make them feel good anymore. The marijuana doesn’t make them feel good anymore. The pills don’t make them feel good anymore. Then we start talking about – they use heroin.”
When people go to the polls they will find two issues dealing with the same subject. Issue 2 would not allow a monopoly while Issue 3 creates 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow the drug.
“First and foremost, I too like the overwhelming majority of all law enforcement officials am against Issue 3 and am in support of Issue 2,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said. “Issue 2, if passed will protect the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit and stop the repeated attempts to place the issue of legalizing marijuana on the ballot just to benefit a select few after the public has voiced their opposition to it. Legalization of recreational marijuana is simply a quick way for the proponents of this issue to get richer quicker. It is not a revenue source for our communities throughout Ohio nor is it a way to give addicts a ‘safer’ way to get high without resorting to heroin. With the passage of Issue 3 pot stores in Ohio would outnumber Starbuck’s coffee shops at the rate of five pot stores to one Starbuck’s – 1,140 to 203.”
Taking the lead on the opposition front was Chief Keith C. Torbet of the Wauseon Police Department and president of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP).
“For the past two days I was at an executive summit with the members of the executive boards of the OACP, the BSSA, and administrative command staff of the OSHP,” Torbet said.
OACP drafted a letter, with the help of the Logan County Law Enforcement Association, that they are recommending be adopted across the state as their stance on Issue 3.
“I oppose it (Issue 3),” New Boston Police Chief Darrold Clark said. “I oppose it because we’ve got enough drug problems in this area. I have mixed feelings on the medical marijuana. I don’t have a real problem with it if it is through the doctor. But as far as what they’re (Responsible Ohio) proposing I don’t like it. We do have enough problems.”
Torbet is attempting to make it clear that at least the majority of law enforcement officials oppose Issue 3.
“There were many issues that were brought up in that meeting most of which posed serious complications to law enforcement and the safety of the general public is this issue passes,” Torbet said of the executive meeting. “It was unanimously agreed on at this summit by members of the executive boards of the OACP, BSSA (Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association), and the command staff of the OSHP that we adopt the following letter in response to Issue 3.”
The Daily Times was unable to contact Shawnee State University Director of the Department of Public Safety, David Thoroughman for comment on the issue.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.