There are a variety of important issues on the ballot this November. Issue 1 seeks to change the way Ohio draws its state legislative districts in an effort to allow more input from the minority party. Issue 2 seeks to ban efforts of business investors to create monopolies in Ohio’s Constitution. Yet, in stark contrast to Issue 2, Issue 3 seeks to create a legalized drug cartel.
Issue 3 would allow a small group of investors an exclusive monopoly to grow marijuana in Ohio, while making recreational marijuana more available to children and adults than their favorite fast food. No matter how you feel about the legalization of marijuana, the passage of Issue 3 would only benefit a wealthy few while saddling the state and its citizens with immeasurable costs. Issue 3 must be defeated.
You may have received mail recently from the ironically named Responsible Ohio that touts the benefits of legalizing marijuana. The truth is these mailings are deceitful. One fact they conveniently fail to mention is that Issue 3 seeks to specifically list 10 pieces of real estate in Ohio’s constitution as the only property on which marijuana can be grown for commercial purposes.
Of course, these pieces of real estate are already owned by the handful of wealthy investors in the Issue 3 campaign. These investors hope to turn their investment into a billion dollar a year industry. They will be able to do so by setting their own prices and tax rates, unlike the tobacco and liquor industry, which have their prices and tax rates set by the state. In short, Issue 3 seeks to create a constitutionally guaranteed monopoly for a small group of wealthy investors and their families to live off of forever at a significant cost to the rest of Ohio.
The biggest losers of Issue 3 are our children. I am sure most of us can remember our favorite treat as a child, whether it was a brownie, a cookie, gummy bears or another candy or baked good. For those of us who are parents or grandparents, we have also seen our children develop those same preferences, and we have seen their excitement when offered the opportunity to indulge them. Issue 3 would allow for the sale of brownies, cookies, gummy bears and many other common food items that would be packed with dangerously high levels of THC, only a little of which is necessary to permanently damage a child’s brain.
It is perfectly conceivable that your child or grandchild will mistake a dangerous drug-infused brownie with their favorite chocolate brownie while at a friend’s house. Unfortunately, if your child does what any one of us would have done at that age and devours it without thinking about the consequences, the results could be tragic.
But the effect on children is not just limited to food. Since marijuana’s legalization in Colorado in 2012, the state has seen a 56 percent increase in overall marijuana usage among children aged 12-17. The same result is likely to happen in Ohio. This issue alone should be enough for everyone to vote no on Issue 3, but the overwhelming availability of marijuana in every community makes Issue 3 even more dangerous.
If you have spent any time driving through Ohio, you have passed many McDonalds restaurants and Starbucks coffee locations. Seemingly, you will find a McDonalds or Starbucks in nearly every community across our state. Issue 3 will create more marijuana retail stores than McDonalds and Starbucks locations in the state of Ohio combined! In fact, we will have three times more marijuana retailers than liquor stores in Ohio if Issue 3 passes. That will result in a huge influx of marijuana, which will undoubtedly result in significant safety risks. Proof of this is in Colorado where there has been a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths since legalization. The mass availability is too alarming to overlook.
Responsible Ohio’s Issue 3 campaign is many things, but responsible is definitely not one of them. Issue 3 will create a monopoly for a group of wealthy investors, while saturating our neighborhoods and schools with dangerous amounts of marijuana that cannot be well regulated. We would be wise to learn from other states like Colorado and not place in our Constitution this costly get-rich-quick scheme by Issue 3’s investors. I urge you to vote no on Issue 3.
Rob McColley is the state representative for Ohio’s 81st District, which includes Henry, Putnam, Williams and part of Fulton counties. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at at 614-466-3760.