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Hullabaloo


Friday, October 30, 2015

 
Legalize Pot In The Buckeye State! Vote No On Issue 2, Yes On Issue 3

Guest post by Cliff Schecter

Many of you kind folks reading this blog post have probably not even heard about one of the most important elections taking place in four days. On November 3rd, not in New York or Vermont or Maryland, but in Ohio, we are going to be voting in whether to make Ohio the 5th state in the country to legalize pot.

As Joe Biden might say, It's a big f*in deal.

So we have the chance, not in a liberal state, but more conservative, swing state in the Midwest, to legalize weed. What would this mean for us? Let's see: 1) As the ACLU--who is on board--has pointed out, 12,000-14,000 arrests for pot possession in Ohio each year would be stopped cold. 2) Police stopping cars because of the "smell of pot," which has led to African-American males being murdered, would be dumped into the ash bin of history 3) Kids suffering from epilepsy and adults suffering from Alzheimers', or going through chemo, would have access to medicinal marijuana 4) localities that have been robbed of money so John Kasich could cut taxes and run for President, would get necessary funds for infrastructure because of taxes.

Not shockingly, many right wingers are opposed. But progressives? Yes, some of our own, the "perfect must be the enemy of the good" crowd, have flipped out because the amendment we're voting on would limit us to 10 pot farms--with investors in the campaign getting the right to run those farms. These ten farms would be competing, but still they yell monopoly (ever try and switch your cell service? I just did. What I'd give for ten choices). Then they yell about rich people getting richer. Well, sure, but in other states if they allow bidding on these licenses, who do you think is getting to the front of the line? The middle class? In states like Minnesota, which is limited to only two medicinal grow facilities, and New York, which only has five, who do you think got those licenses, people with pocket change? I'll tell you, those with lots of money and connections.

Here is the thing folks. We are at a tipping point. If Ohio passes this, much like gay marriage recently, it will become unstoppable. Ohio is the same size, in terms of population, as Alaska, Oregon and Washington all together, or three of the four states where this is currently legal. It would be the first in the Midwest, and once the tax money starts coming in, look for Pennsylvania and Michigan and Illinois to rethink their stance. It will affect the presidential race, as every candidate who comes here to campaign next year--as they do non-stop for obvious reasons--will have to take a position, and tell Ohioans why we should be stripped of this right, if we have it. The momentum will be unstoppable.

But the more quotidian? How about the four families I know who have to deal with this, for those they love most in their lives, their children:

Does the little girl in the photo look like a criminal? 
Right now, the state of Ohio thinks so. 
And unless Issue 3 passes, that won’t change. 
For those still undecided on Issue 3, I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Sophia. 
She’s 7 years old and has intractable epilepsy. (To see her whole story, go to www.helpsophia.com). 
But there’s one thing that helps when nothing else will: medical marijuana. I’ve personally witnessed miraculous reductions in seizures with this medicine. 
So, for me, voting yes on Issue 3 is an easy answer. 
When you go into the voting booth, ask yourself: If this were your daughter, how would you vote?
Now, of course, with a vote-suppressing Secretary of State (Jon Husted) using this as an issue to position himself for a gubernatorial primary, and our state legislature's being filled with cretins similar to that of the U.S. Congress, they placed a poison pill, Issue 2, on the ballot. If you vote for that, it cancels your vote for Issue 3, but also it does much more. From a piece I wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer:
If Issue 2 were to pass, a coalition of Ohioans pushing for any kind of reform could do all the hard work of raising money, organizing supporters and gathering signatures, just to end up before an unsympathetic ballot board of four Legislature appointees and the secretary of state. The whims and passions of these five individuals would rule the day, outweighing the wishes and work of hundreds of thousands of voters in Ohio. 
I can think of many words for this, but democracy isn't one of them. That is is why good-government groups such as Common Cause and The Move To Amend Ohio Network have come out strongly against Issue 2. They see the potential danger in taking a process currently decided by the people and adding arbitrary bureaucracy and legislative partisanship into the mix. That's a witch's brew if there ever was one.

Look folks, nobody is saying Issue 3 is perfect. But how you vote will impact a lot of people in Ohio, as well as the country. Should fathers like Scott Nazzarine have to watch their daughters be criminals, or suffer 30 or 50 or more seizures a day? Should young, disproportionately African-American kids go to prison, tens of thousands of them? Should we build up our infrastructure, and create jobs with the over 1,100 retail shops that will be able to legally sell pot? Should we put a huge dent in the War on Drugs, and lessen state-sanctioned violence, or that of criminals selling on the black market?

So you don't like the business plan. Fine. Vote for this, and then try and vote to amend it in 2016, or later. But if you think we are getting another chance at this, just know that our state legislature, since 1998, has failed to let medicinal marijuana out of committee. The investors who plunked down $2M each for this campaign won't be around next time. Who is putting up the millions to get this on the ballot again? I guess your Plan B is vote no, and hopefully redistricting works magic in 2022?

Please folks, think of the many positives this will provide. On Tuesday November 3rd, tell your friends, tell your family, and do it yourself, if you vote in Ohio: Vote No on Issue 2 and Yes on Issue 3.

--- Cliff Schecter
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