As November rolls around, Capital students are once again faced with big decisions. One major issue that has been prominent in the minds of most Ohioans is the legalization of marijuana. If Issue 3 passes, as proposed by ResponsibleOhio, Ohioans over the age of 21 can legally buy, grow, and consume marijuana by summer 2016.
ResponsibleOhio collected a total of 320,267 valid signatures to be on the bill for November.
Something that separates the ResponsibleOhio bill from other pro-marijuana legislation is that it is the first bill that aims to simultaneously legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use. In the case of Colorado, California, and Washington, medical marijuana use has always been passed first.
If the bill passes, users will be allowed to possess 1 ounce at a time and grow up to four flowering plants in their homes, as long as they obtain a $50 permit and their crop is kept in a closed, locked space.
Even some of those in favor of legalization have not embraced the proposed bill.
“I am not in love with the fact than it is an oligopoly,” Abby Bott, junior, said. The bill states that commercial marijuana production would take place at only 10 sites in the state.
Critics say that this legislation makes it so that only the initial investors would be able to make money—potentially billions—from the untapped marijuana industry.
ResponsibleOhio debunks these assertions and claims that its marijuana legalization, which would tax 15 percent on all gross revenue, will generate over $550 million in new tax revenue for Ohio by 2020. The group also said that Franklin Country will see up to $50 million of that money.
Although this legislation seems as though it might be hard for small businesses and entrepreneurs to make profit, many supporters claim that the bill is a necessary step for securing the fundamental rights of American citizens.
“Who cares? Let them do it. I think if it stops at least one person from getting arrested for pot, I am all for it,” Harvey Wasserman, Capital professor, author, and environmental activist said.
So how does this bill hold up against similar pro-marijuana legislation planned for next year? The Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment takes more of a free market approach by allowing users to be 18 and older. Medical use would be untaxed, and anybody would be able to apply to be a commercial grower. Also, users would be able to have an unlimited supply of marijuana in their homes, either in plant form or otherwise.
If anyone is interested in hearing more on both sides of the legalization debate, the Capital Pre-Law Society is hosting a public forum 6 p.m. Oct. 29 in Schneider Hall.
“It is important for the students and the community to understand the bill,” Angela Grate, president of the pre-law society, said.
A panel of experts, including Wasserman and representatives from ResponsibleOhio, The Ohio Green Party, Parents Opposed to Pot, and No on Three, will be voicing their opinions about the bill at the pre-law event. Topics will include the effects passing the bill might have on children, the proposed dangers of marijuana, and Ohio’s future with the bill.