The “Green Rush Bus Tour” made a stop at Ohio Wesleyan University Wednesday with little fanfare.
The promotional tour for a ballot initiative to legalize the use marijuana across the state received little attention from students walking to and from class, likely due to a combination of weather, timing and a lack of advance notice.
“It was great to be in Delaware County today,” Green Rush Bus Tour spokeswoman Haley Phillippi said in a statement. “The reason we wanted to visit Ohio Wesleyan University was to share information about the marijuana legalization amendment and the importance of marijuana reform in our state. Legalization will create tens of thousands of jobs, bring millions in tax revenue back to our communities, keep marijuana out of the hands of kids and provide compassionate care for sick Ohioans.”
Rain began to fall just as the bus tour was setting up for the 9 a.m. event, the exact location of which was not announced until just prior to its start.
The proposal would legalize the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes across the state. Those 21 years of age or older would be allowed to purchase marijuana from about 1,100 retail locations.
“We’re really excited about reform coming to Ohio,” said Phillippi. “It’s time.”
ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment would limit growing to 10 regulated sites, presumably controlled by the wealthy interests behind the ballot measure. A seven-member Marijuana Control Commission would create and enforce regulations on the industry. Each level of the supply chain – from grower to retailer – would face a 15 percent tax, most of the revenue from which would be distributed to local governments.
The industry could generate $8.6 million in tax revenue annually for Delaware County by 2020, according to Phillippi.
One of the growing sites would be located in Delaware County — a 25-acre site just off U.S. 42 in Concord Township that borders the city of Delaware. The property is owned by RDS Companies LLC, according to Delaware County Auditor’s Office records. Roger and Deborah Schuette own the company, according to records filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
The investor in the Delaware County growing site is Jennifer Doering, the general manager of a Kentucky-based distribution company.
Critics of the plan have said allowing a couple of dozen of wealthy investors to control the 10 growing operations across the state amounts to a monopoly.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced last week that the ballot measure will be titled, “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.”
ResponsibleOhio has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to intervene, saying the title and ballot language was crafted “with intent to mislead, deceive and defraud the voters.”
The Ohio legislature has placed its own constitutional amendment on the ballot designed to trump ResponsibleOhio’s proposal.
The measure is titled, “Anti-monopoly amendment; protects the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit.”
The Delaware County Board of Elections plans to launch an investigation into the group hired to collect signatures for ResponsibleOhio’s ballot measure, the Strategy Network. The county has received dozens of allegedly fraudulent voter registrations and petition signatures tied to the ballot initiative, and officials want to talk to employers and the owner of the Strategy Network.
Both Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski and Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin have raised concerns about marijuana legalization.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.