Backers of a proposed for-profit marijuana ballot issue released new details yesterday but did
not disclose who would profit should voters approve the legalization issue this November.
The group announced that its plan would assess a flat 15 percent tax on revenue from growing,
manufacturing and selling marijuana. The proposal would legalize personal use of the drug for those
21 or older, and make the medical version of the drug available to people with qualifying
The tax rate is between two active marijuana-sales states’, Colorado and Washington, where
effective tax rates are
12.9 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
ResponsibleOhio’s proposed issue relies heavily on promises of tax revenue for government and
thousands of jobs for the economy. Backed by 10 unidentified investors or groups, ResponsibleOhio
vows to “create opportunities for Ohioans to own and operate retail stores and manufacturing
facilities.” There are no guarantees in the amendment.
The best places to look at what might happen in Ohio are Colorado and Washington, where voters
legalized marijuana for personal and medical use in the past three years.
Through 11 months last year, Colorado collected $44 million in taxes and fees on marijuana
growing, sales, licensing and fees, while Washington received
$25 million on sales that began mid-year in 2014. Colorado’s marijuana industry is growing
through the sale of marijuana and related products. One marijuana products company, Dixie Elixirs
& Edibles, employs 10,000 people.
Ohio critics remain unconvinced.
Gov. John Kasich is opposed to the pot proposal, spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug Free Action Alliance, said the “marijuana cartel
backers continue to talk in vague, glowing terms while refusing to dignify the intelligence of Ohio
voters by simply offering the specific details of their scheme. We prefer to wait until they file
their proposed constitutional amendment with the attorney general before we fully illustrate the
many ways this drug legalization scheme is bad for Ohio families and workers.”
ResponsibleOhio leaders must gather 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio registered voters to place
the issue on the November ballot. They said amendment language will be submitted to Attorney
General Mike DeWine in February.
Tax revenue, projected by the group to be tens of millions of dollars annually, would be
distributed on a per-capita basis. It’s plan would allocate 55 percent to a “Municipal and Township
Government Stabilization Fund”; 30 percent to a “Strong County Fund” for law enforcement, economic
development, and infrastructure; and 15 percent to a “Compassionate Care Fund” to pay for operation
of the state commission, nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, addiction and treatment
programs, and marijuana research at Ohio public universities.
This plan differs from other plans being circulated because it is a for-profit model. Ten
individuals or investor groups who fund the campaign would, if the issues passes, have exclusive
rights to operate one of 10 businesses in the “growth and cultivation of marijuana and the
extraction of cannabinoids.”
Only one of the investors’ names has been made public. James Gould is a Cincinnati sports agent,
businessman and member of the board of directors of numerous organizations. Gould’s sister,
Barbara, who served on the Ohio Arts Council Board and other arts organizations, might also
Christopher D. Stock, 39, a Cincinnati attorney and lead drafter of the proposal, said it is
about “making sure the product is safe and that we’re eradicating the black market.” Stock is
former assistant attorney general and deputy state solicitor for Attorney General Jim Petro, and
was a law clerk for Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell.
The proposal calls for creation of a seven-member Ohio Marijuana Control Commission appointed by
the governor. Only one of the commission members would be someone involved in the marijuana