Marijuana – New Ballot Initiative Threatened

As anticipated, with only twelve large and twelve smaller cultivators having been chosen to grow marijuana for Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program, some who weren’t selected are convinced that the process was flawed and the program’s progression needs to be stopped and revaluated. After all, there is much at stake. Being awarded a cultivator license has the promise of bringing the investors big returns and no one wants to be left on the sidelines with so much potential profit.

We believe the State of Ohio did their due diligence in making this arduous process as unbiased as possible. They assembled teams comprised of experts in the industry from across the country to evaluate the comprehensive applications. These teams were not given any information that would divulge the identity of the companies or their principals. The scores were based solely on the merit of the application. A second team of reviewers were given all the identifying information to make sure the businesses were law abiding, paid taxes, and had no law suits or complaints that would be a disqualifier.

Now, the entire process could languish as lawsuits begin to emerge. One particular applicant, formerly Responsible Ohio, which was heavily invested in the 2015 Issue 3 ballot initiative, is kicking up a dust storm. They uncovered that one of the consultants hired by the state had a felony drug conviction from 12 years ago on his criminal record. Using this as political fodder, they, in addition to political candidates, politicians, and other hopeful entrepreneurs are jumping into the fray. At this point the State of Ohio is undeterred and is continuing to move forward with the Medical Marijuana Control Program. This turmoil will continue to play out in the coming weeks and months.

Why should we be concerned? Those same individuals who were behind issue 3 and who called Ohio’s medical marijuana bill the best in the United States failed to obtain a cultivator license. Now, they’ve announced that they will push for a “free market” recreational marijuana measure for the 2018 ballot called the “regulate marijuana like alcohol amendment.” At this time, details are still coming out, but it’s already clear that this amendment would, among other things, make it legal for anyone 21 and up to grow and use marijuana.

As community leaders, we will once again need to ramp up our educational efforts. We need to start now. The alcohol and tobacco industries have flourished at the expense of public health and well-being and now marijuana is knocking on the door to become the third. Together we can stop the greed that threatens healthy children and communities.

Marcie Seidel
Executive Director
Prevention Action Alliance

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