Delaware County commissioners officially voted Monday to oppose State Issue 3, the ballot issue that would legalize marijuana.
If passed on Nov. 3, Issue 3 would amend the Ohio Constitution “to provide for the legalization of the use of medical marijuana by patients with debilitating medical conditions if a medical marijuana certification has been provided by the patient’s treating physician and the use of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use in amounts of one ounce or less by individuals 21 years of age or older.”
There are 28 provisions to the amendment, crafted by ResponsibleOhio, which “is comprised of numerous businesswomen and men, medical professionals, and patient advocates who who have come together to provide a responsible marijuana reform program for Ohio,” states the website yeson3ohio.com.
However, commissioners unanimously said they felt Issue 3 was irresponsible.
“State Issue 3 places in the Ohio Constitution a billion-dollar marijuana monopoly for a small group of wealthy investors, gives them exclusive rights to commercial marijuana profits in Ohio, and insulates them from any business competition or act of the legislature,” states commissioners’ resolution in opposition to Issue 3.
Among the other concerns listed on the resolution said that Issue 3 “permits investors to set their own preferential tax rates” and “contains ambiguous language that could shield wealthy investors and retail marijuana shop owners from an obligation to pay the state income tax.”
In addition, the resolution notes that, if passed, Issue 3 “proposes to flood Ohio with marijuana, allowing 1,159 retail marijuana stores and allowing every adult to possess more than half a pound of marijuana, in addition to possessing four flowering marijuana plants at home.”
County officials believe that legalization would not only pose safety risks to the public, it would burden social services and drug treatment programs.
Commissioners each took turns reading the resolution and commenting.
“I met with Responsible Ohio and there is very little that is responsible about this constitutional amendment, including the fact that it should at the least be a legislative decision, not a change to the Ohio Constitution,” commission president Gary Merrell said.
“I can’t reinforce enough the point that the entire industry does not belong in the Constitution for so many reasons,” Commissioner Jeff Benton said. “The amendment, if passed, puts state regulations in conflict with federal regulations, thus preventing normal banking procedures.”
“Issue 3 is not supported by the majority of statewide agencies or large newspaper groups because of the monopoly it creates; the damage it could do to businesses with impaired workers; and the risk to our children by legalizing marijuana-infused products like candy and cookies,” said Commissioner Barb Lewis. “It is the worst amendment that could ever be added to our state constitution.”
One of the proposed marijuana grow sites would be in Delaware County.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.