COLUMBUS, Ohio — Key investors in a campaign to legalize marijuana use in Ohio include a former pro-basketball star, a pro-football player and a fashion designer.
ResponsibleOhio on Friday released the names of 11 key investors in its campaign to legalize marijuana for medical and personal use in Ohio. The investors, along with other supporters, are members of the investment groups that will own and operate the 10 marijuana grow sites to be specified in the group’s proposed constitutional amendment.
“The campaign is honored to have such well-respected businesswomen and men, as well as patient advocates supporting our effort to offer a common-sense solution to Ohio’s failed drug policies,” Ian James, ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, said in a press release.
ResponsibleOhio’s plan would create a system where marijuana would be grown at only 10 locations and then sold to manufacturers to turn into candies and other products or consumers at retail shops and medical dispensaries. The proposal does not change Ohio’s laws against individuals growing marijuana, either for sale or personal use, which marijuana advocates have criticized.
Investors named Friday:
- Oscar “The Big O” Robertson, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member, played for the Cincinnati Royals
- Frostee Rucker, defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns
- Nanette Lepore, fashion designer born in Youngstown
- Rick Kirk, Columbus-area real estate developer
- Frank Wood, CEO of Secret Communications, a radio company turned venture capital firm
- Barbara Gould, Cincinnati philanthropist
- Sir Alan Mooney, an investor and board member of the Ohio Council of Churches
- William Foster, entrepreneur and philanthropist
- William “Cheney” Pruett, president and CEO of DMP Investments, which specializes in providing products and consultative services in the area of consumer finance
- John Humphrey, Chief Financial Officer of DMP Investments
- Bobby George, real estate developer
In a news release, Robertson said he joined the campaign because of the benefits provided by medical marijuana. “It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition — I know from personal experience,” Robertson said. “But medical marijuana can give our loved ones relief.”
ResponsibleOhio’s scheme would tax marijuana at 15 percent from grower to manufacturer to retail store, with revenues funding public services in counties, townships and municipalities. The group has pushed back on claims the amendment would create a monopoly, noting the system allows thousands of entrepreneurs to manufacture marijuana products or sell the drug in stores and medical dispensaries.
“This is an incredible opportunity for places like my hometown of Youngstown to generate significant dollars for things like road and bridge repair, which in turn will create thousands of needed jobs,” Lepore said in a press release.
Only one name on the list had been made public before Friday, after Northeast Ohio Media Group reported Cincinnati philanthropist Barbara Gould supported the plan.
All five elected constitutional officers have opposed the plan, which they said Thursday would wrongly grant a constitutional monopoly on the marijuana industry.
ResponsibleOhio has yet to submit the actual language of its proposed constitutional amendment to the attorney general. Once the ballot language is cleared, the group will have until July 1 to collect more than 305,591 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to put the issue on the November ballot.
At least three other plans are in the works to legalize marijuana use that do not limit where cannabis can be grown.