A poll on the legalization of medical marijuana conducted last February showed overwhelming support by Ohioans. 87% of the nearly 1400 respondents to the poll conducted by Quinnipiac were open to legalizing Cannabis in the state. With the winds of change being felt across the country, and a electorate who is largely comfortable with a once demonized drug by the masses, multiple poll initiatives have surfaced rife with dirty politics that we will detail as our series on the issue unfolds. It is clear that the most see-through and responsible way to give the electorate what they desire should be done through the Statehouse in Columbus.
Among the 13% minority who are holding back legislation to make marijuana legal in some form is Attorney General Mike DeWine. DeWine sounded like someone who had watched the propaganda film Reefer Madness once too often when he was asked about the issue last year in Defiance. DeWine implied that with Colorado legalizing cannabis would lead to higher use from teenagers. That has not happened. DeWine forecasted an increase in accidents and deaths on the highways. Fatal traffic accidents are near historic lows in Colorado. The Republican concluded his comments by rehashing a common falsehood that isn’t based in facts that pot use is a gateway to harder drugs like opiates.
So what has happened in Colorado a year after they did what was unthinkable 20 years ago and made marijuana use legal for both recreational and medical purposes? The economy is booming in The Centennial State. $50 million in tax receipts from sales alone have come into the Rocky Mountains and tourists from around the world are visiting there. Crime is down 15% in the state while 9 of 10 voters who supported the issue at the polls say they would vote the same way if given the chance today.
What they did in Colorado was revolutionary by allowing recreational use of cannabis. What Ohio would be doing is at best reactionary and a realization that the winds of change of change on the attitude of medicinal marijuana has many benefits for many people. Among the groups best helped by medicinal marijuana are children who suffer from seizures and ex-military members who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder. 87% of the Ohio electorate want to help these people, amongst others, but no movement is being made by the powerful state legislatures to actually make this a realization. 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of medical marijuana laws mostly by legislative action.
Instead of legislation, we Ohioans are seeing pay to play politics at its finest. Studying this issue in depth has revealed a cesspool of epic proportions. Four groups have expressed interest in legalization in one form or another. One of these groups will likely get on the ballot with the best contenders being ResponsibleOhio who has big money players behind full legalization or Ohio Rights Group who have already gathered over 1/3 of the needed signatures to put a medicinal only amendment the measure on the ballot. There are surely 312,000 Ohioans who want to vote on this in an election but in-fighting, mismanagement, and downright corruption have plagued the marijuana supporters.
It is time for our elected officials to pull out the rugs from groups like ResponsibleOhio who are more interested in bottom line profits than helping patients who would benefit from the medicinal uses of marijuana while also creating a vibrant cannabis industry that would allow farmers to grow a plant that is useful to industries ranging from textiles to manufacturing.
Instead of action by the legislature, we get rhetoric straight out of the 1950’s from leaders like Mike DeWine,who’s pulse on this issue is out of touch with any form of reality. Medical marijuana is currently working well in half the country. Full legalization of the drug in Colorado is regarded as a resounding success. It is time for Ohio to get off the sidelines and that takes true leadership and that should start in the state capital.