A battle for marijuana legalization votes hit the stage Tuesday as a six-person panel picked sides on Ohio ballot Issue 3.
A strong push for medical marijuana was made, with pro-pot advocates outnumbering opponents in a League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area event at Lorain County Community College.
ResponsibleOhio, the group promoting Issue 3, wants to amend the Ohio Constitution to make cannabis legal for both medical and personal use for people at least 21 years old.
John Pardee, vice president of the Ohio Rights Group, initially did not support Issue 3 but after talking with ResponsibleOhio representatives his view has changed.
“I’m just an activist dad,” said Pardee, whose son legally grows medical marijuana in California for therapeutic use due to a pelvic surgery.
ORG did not support the first draft ResponsibleOhio put forward for the ballot.
It tried unsuccessfully for three years to get a pot legalization measure in front of voters. Patient rights and needs are ORG’s top concern and at first ResponsibleOhio’s ballot language was not friendly toward people growing cannabis at home.
That has since changed.
If Issue 3 is approved, ResponsibleOhio will open five testing and 10 research facilities near colleges and universities across the state. Lorain County is the only county expected to house both types of facilities, though neither location has been decided.
Oberlin is a strong contender to house one due to the presence of Oberlin College. A provision of ResponsibleOhio’s proposal is that sites be located close to higher education institutions to help advance research.
Pardee said he believes the facilities will be regulated by the state: “Imagine the medical researchers and the biotechnical research that can happen in the state of Ohio in connection with all of the colleges in Ohio having those type of sites that are protected.”
“The people that are hurt the most by prohibition are the patients,” Pardee said. “That’s who we’re fighting for.”
Sri Kavury, president and co-founder of Ohio to End Prohibition, said the organizations interested in partnering with the marijuana reserach facilities would just rent space and would not receive federal funding to oversee the center.
“The research that needs to be done needs to be done at a federal level,” Kavury said. “Issue 3 doesn’t change that.”
If voters approve Issue 3, Ohio would be the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana and the fourth state for recreational use.
Anthony Giardini, executive committee member of the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative campaign, said if the measure is approved voters in each city will have to approve retail establishments selling marijuana just like alcohol.
Issue 3 would require state licenses to grow up to four flowering plants at home. Residents would be entitled to carry one ounce of pot at a time but barred from selling home-grown marijuana.
Drunk driving laws would also be broadened to include drugged driving.
All marijuana products sold would be taxed at a rate of five percent for retail and 15 percent for wholesale and manufacturers.
Giardini said the revenue generated through taxes would go back into county and city budgets: “This tax may be the single most important thing about Issue 3 on the local government side,” he said.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Civitas Media
Anthony Giardini, executive committee member for the Ohio Marijuana Leglaization Intiative campaign, talks about how passage of Issue 3 could bring more money to struggling city and county governments.