We are at the point in history where Marihuana Legalization is a clearly foreseeable. Months ago I attended the Ohio Supreme Court’s forum on Marijuana Legalization. The forums focus was not on “IF” or “WHEN” it was all about “HOW”. That is the primary question facing us now. There are as many possibilities as there are people who want it to happen. The purpose of this letter illustrates one possibility - my personal views.
We all have to realize that some compromises will be required in order to Re-legalize Marihuana. The real trick is doing it in a manner that will encourage cooperation, have a positive impact, be honest and a success.
Money will be part of the effort and outcome; to deny that, is to deny reality the world we live in. Funding and how it flows will need to transparent during and after completion. The potential dangers are greed and ego. I would like see a thriving multiple faceted market with government control free of criminal black market thugs and corruption.
One end of the spectrum is the human consumption. Human consumption has many forms or elements like food and medicine. The form making noise currently is the cerebral or intoxication element in “POT”. There will be or should be the large “BIG BUDS” companies (mass market commercial entities) grudgingly sharing the market with “SMALL BUDS” ( Like Budweiser does with Cincinnati’s Mount Carmel beer company) and hopefully ignoring the tiny amount of non-commercial home enthusiast caring for their personal small garden. The dividing line between the home grower and the “BIG BUD / SMALL BUDS” is that the home grow is not engaged in a commercial operation with financial transactions. Any commercial consumers should have basic knowledge of the product they are purchasing with basic health and safety quality controls similar to commercially processed foods and beverages.
At the other end of the spectrum are the industrial applications with the potential to fill in gaps of our industrial & farm economy. There are a variety of products that can be derived from the plant. Plastics and basic combustion fuels/oil are easy, more interesting are some of the more advanced applications in energy storage such as coated nanotubes and the structural applications in automobiles.
I suggest that market be segmented, into at least three segments composed of producer, wholesale/processor/distributor and the retail operations. In between these segments is where government controls mechanisms and product quality would be ideally located.
Funds generated by taxation will be impressive and the subject of much discussion. The basic level of taxes should be targeted to eliminate the black market but generate enough funds for serious drug treatment and mental health; a needs based education grant system and finally to supply state & local government funding. Taxes should vary based on differences in active content (i.e. beer vs wine vs versus whiskey analogy). Licensing fees should be tiered based on the size of the operation. An element of local taxation and control and subject to established zoning mechanisms. The most important element in any law is flexibility. I would propose the following basic ballot language to the authors of any Marihuana Legalization ballot.
Constitutional Expiration: This ballot’s language will be stricken from the Ohio Constitution upon resolutions from the Ohio Legislature signed by the Governor recognizing the re-legalization and end of marihuana prohibition in the state of Ohio.
Additionally I believe the next two elements are important.
Criminal Record Expungement: Previous offender’s criminal records for marihuana possession shall be expunged upon request of the offender.
Driver’s License Suspension: All current non driving related driver’s license suspension for marihuana offenses shall be lifted upon request of the affected person. No extra fees are to be imposed on the applicant.
All of the above is my personal views and at a very high level. The above is would need to converted in “Legalese” for actual ballot wording. Final legal language will be more detailed and may or may not have elements of what I suggested above. If we are rigid in our ideology that will be counterproductive to the eventual Re-legalization of Marihuana.
Your own personal viewpoint has different details than mine above. This is where my own views, yours and others have to find common ground. But the future is certain. Marihuana will be re-legalized, so we just need to deal with it in an adult and rational manner.
The New York Times editorial board has caught up to the public and is now calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. I urge you to please to read the NY TIMES editorials on their website in entirety and leave a message with your opinion. Ohio is an important element just look at the map! Ohio has had numerous medical marijuana bills introduced as well as full legalization legislation without any traction, as well as three medical marijuana ballot initiatives started. Now is the time for leaders in Columbus to step up and act!
It is way past time to end this "war" on our own citizens and reverse prohibition policy that criminalizes and cripples so many of Ohioans. On the map Ohio may be colored a "DECRIM STATE," but in reality it is a decriminalized state with plenty of sharp teeth.
These teeth range from scaring people who are seriously ill to continue to suffer or afraid to talk to their doctors, students losing educational benefits, filling our jails beyond their capacity due to failing a drug test that drives Ohio's high recidivism rate, secret tools for "The New Jim Crow" for racism to hide behind, encouraging people to leave the state with their children who have an epileptic like seizures condition called Dravets, corrupting our youth to become drug dealers to make a fast buck, breaking up of families by removing a child from their mother because of a hospital drug test, hunters being denied legal access to rifles, veterans and pain patients being dropped from receiving medical care, and finally even taking away a person's driver's license for having a joint.
Marijuana, Cannabis, Ganja, Pot, Weed, Marihuana, Hemp…… whatever you want to call it needs to be RE-legalized! We must deal with reality rather than falsehoods and worn out propaganda. We need to deal with it rationally and push past the lies propagated by the new REEFER MADNESS any longer! It is time for Ohioans, be they marijuana consumers or not to act and reform Ohio's marijuana laws.
Ohio does not need to be last to recognize the truth, marijuana should be made legal once again. Let's put our rusty factories to work and be part of a green growing economy; whether it is for using hemp as a source for a whole variety of industrial uses; to making medications for our sick; or providing a safer alternative to alcohol.
Below is a composite image and links to the Sunday July 26th 2014 New York Times edition. There are two other article, the second article in the Times is an opinion about Letting the states decide, the third is about the change in public opinion.1-Repeal Prohibition, Again By THE New York Times Editiorial Boardhttp://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-marijuana-legalization.html?op-nav 2-Let States Decide on Marijuana http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-let-states-decide-on-marijuana.html?op-nav 3-The Public Lightens Up About Weed http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-the-public-lightens-up-about-weed.html?ref=opinion
Our Declaration of Independence says that all men (and women) are created equal and the Equal Protection clause in the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution attempts to support that goal. However election laws as written in Ohio are completely contrary to those ideals.
An example is that a prospective independent state legislative candidate in Cincinnati’s District 28 ( Madeira to Greenhills area ) is required by Ohio law to get almost 10 times the number of petition signatures as a Democratic or Republican candidate to be qualified for the ballot.
Laws like that have been challenged using the equal protection argument (14th amendment) and have been rejected by judges. The rationale for their decisions are that the state has an overriding interest in maintaining the two party system for political stability.
As evidenced by Congress's recent inability to keep the government running, the two party system is not stable and has failed the public. Congress has not passed a budget for years without resorting to a "Continuing Resolution" band aid and now they have shutdown the government.
Another example here in Ohio is the fact that it takes almost 3 times as many voters to elect a Democratic congressional representative as it takes to elect a Republican. This is a direct effect of gerrymandering the legislative districts to artificially create a political advantage.
Furthermore the two dominant parties (R+D) have written laws to protect themselves by imposing legal restrictions on a person running for office. Anyone who for example voted for a third party in a primary is barred for years to run as a Republican or Democratic.
These examples demonstrate how the current system helps the extreme ends of our political spectrum get elected and keep us divided. They certainly do not promote political stability and harmony.
The two party system clearly needs improvement. The courts rationale for maintaining the two party system is flawed. A simple every day analogy is that of a two legged stool that can sway back and forth versus a three legged stool which is stable and practical.
It is time to stabilize our government and broaden political opportunity by removing these "legal" restrictions. A political legal landscape that encourages more than two parties would have the potential of actually representing the majority of citizens who are in the middle rather than continuing today's system of bi-polar politics.