Two Cleveland-area Democrats — state Reps. Casey Weinstein of Hudson and Terrence Upchurch of Cleveland — are drafting legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio and create a way to tax and regulate it.
“There are definitely legislators on both sides of the aisle who support legalization. I will not out them,” Weinstein told Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler earlier this month. “But I have had that many conversations and have heard about quite a bit of support in the Senate, in the House – from both parties on the concept.”
The bill hasn’t yet been introduced, but according to Kasler’s July 15 report, would let most people 21 or older buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants. It also would seal convictions of those with past convictions for actions made legal by the bill, and allow them to participate in marijuana commerce.
The website Marijuana Moment further reported that the bill would:
- Levy a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales.
- Direct that revenue first to defray cost of implementation, then “up to $20 million annually for two years for clinical trials researching the efficacy of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of veterans and preventing veteran suicide.”
- Split remaining revenue, with 35% each going to K-12 schools and bridge and road repairs, and 15% each to municipalities and counties with cannabis shops, allocated based on the number of stores.
- House regulatory oversight including licensure in the Ohio Department of Commerce.
- Maintain, without changes, the state’s medical marijuana program.
Weinstein and Upchurch believe the time is ripe for this measure but so far Ohio Republican lawmakers have shown no appetite for recreational marijuana legalization, nor has the measure made it onto the ballot as a citizens’ initiative, although a new attempt is launching. Cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias reports that a group calling itself “The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” has begun an effort to get a full marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2022 ballot.
So what does our Editorial Board Roundtable think? Is it a great idea — or a “weed” stinker?
Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:
De facto, it’s legal now, unless the police want a reason to charge someone and no other plausible charge is available. Opioids kill, weed doesn’t.
Ted Diadiun, columnist:
Rationalize all you like, but it’s a fact that marijuana impairs judgment, leads to harder drugs, and creates a potential menace on the “high” ways. The jury is still out on the long-range health implications of habitual use. The idea of legislators legalizing its recreational use in exchange for a few tax dollars is appalling.
Eric Foster, columnist:
There are now 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Those states are still functioning. Their governments have not been toppled. The sky is still blue, and children still laugh and play. If we allow something as harmful as alcohol, we should allow something as harmless as marijuana.
Victor Ruiz, editorial board member:
The benefits of marijuana, including economic ones, are very well-documented, so legalization is a no-brainer. For those worried about the negative effects, I encourage them to learn about what alcohol and cigarettes do to our bodies and society. Lastly, we must expunge old records and free those incarcerated (most of whom are people of color).
Lisa Garvin, editorial board member:
I’m encouraged by a bill in the U.S. Senate to end the federal marijuana ban. It’s time for Ohio to legalize recreational use. We’ve seen medicinal marijuana spawn an industry that has provided ample tax revenues and small business opportunities. We must also remove barriers that have stymied research on marijuana’s benefits and downsides.
Mary Cay Doherty, editorial board member:
Legalizing a mind-altering, reality-numbing, gateway drug won’t improve lives or society. Marijuana’s long-term potential effects include addiction, impaired cognition, sleep problems, and even psychosis. Allocating revenue by the number of shops incentivizes cities and counties to promote drug use and addiction. Using revenue for education doesn’t justify bad legislation. Illegal bad things should remain illegal.
Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director:
It’s long past time to legalize marijuana fully, and to study, fully, its health effects.
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