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Marijuana Legalization Plan Is Based On Elements Of Ohio’s Alcohol Laws

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One of the groups that want to put an issue on the ballot this fall to legal marijuana production and use in Ohio is giving more details about its plan. 

Backers say it was influenced by Ohio’s alcohol laws. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

If you want to buy a beer legally in Ohio, you have to be 21.  You have to buy it from a place that’s licensed to sell that beer.  And that business that sells it to you has to obey strict rules to keep its liquor license.  Chris Stock with ResponsibleOhio says those are key components of his group’s proposal that, if passed by voters, would allow legal marijuana production and use.

Stock “It was patterned on the liquor laws because we think the liquor do a good job of balancing safety and distribution for Ohioans.”

Under this plan, cannabis production would be limited to 10 sites identified in the amendment. Those sites haven’t been named yet. Another five sites, which also haven’t been identified, would test the marijuana for safety and potency. A seven member commission would audit and oversee those establishments and enforce regulations.  A 15% tax on marijuana would go to local governments.  And Stock says local voters would be able to determine whether the product could be sold in their communities.

Stock “We want to make sure that retail stores still have a very strict local control component.  So before a retail store can go online, it must go through a local option election in the precinct.  So the precinct, the voters in each precinct ,must vote up or down, as to the location of that store.”

Stock says this amendment, if passed, would create thousands of jobs.  But Marcie Siedel, the Executive Director of the Drug Free Action Alliance, says Ohioans should not be swayed into thinking ResponsibleOhio’s plan is a responsible idea.

Siedel “While there are many who are kind of dazzled by the dollar signs and want it to seem like it is the right, responsible thing to do when they can put all the pieces in place, we know, from watching other states, that businesses and families pay the price for public policies like this.”

Siedel says she still has many questions about this proposal.

Siedel “It’s an incredibly complex issue and it needs to be looked and dealt with at a very detailed level.”

Another group has proposed putting a different marijuana legalization plan on the ballot.  That plan doesn’t have as many details at this point.  But polls have suggested that the time is now for a medical marijuana issue. A Quinnipiac poll last February showed Ohioans support the use of medical marijuana by an 8-1 margin, and just over half said they support allowing adults to possess pot for personal use.

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