ResponsibleOhio Announces Marijuana Legalization Plan

Group Suggests Strictly Regimented Monopoly Structure

ResponsibleOhio's website had featured a countdown clock all week, teasing visitors with something expected to happen at noon today. The clock struck 12 o'clock, and nothing happened.

Later in the afternoon, a boilerplate press release seared across the website of the latest organization to seek the legalization of marijuana in Ohio. The news didn't surprise us; we've all been generally aware of the group's plan to get a ballot initiative before voters this November.

For the record, though, here's what ResponsibleOhio is proposing (emphasis Scene's):
“ResponsibleOhio’s amendment will establish five regional marijuana testing facilities that will examine the marijuana grown at each wholesale location before it reaches the consumer,” spokesperson Lydia Bolander said. “These five facilities will ensure that marijuana grown in Ohio for personal and medical use will be subject to the strictest and safest testing regulations in the country.”

Ten growing facilities will supply all of Ohio’s legal marijuana, which will then be examined by one of five testing facilities. The testing facilities will be operated separately from both the growing locations and the retail stores.
In essence, the group suggests a legal monopoly on marijuana production. This approach mirrors 2009's Issue 3, which ushered in legal casino gambling in four cities in Ohio.

Bolander goes on to argue: “We’ve heard too many stories of families who have lost children, siblings and loved ones because marijuana they purchased was laced with dangerous drugs like heroin or PCP. [Ed. note: No information was provided to support that claim. Most Northeast Ohio dealers are pretty cool on all that, according to, uh, local experts.] The black market is dangerous and prohibition has failed. The consumer should be confident that they are buying marijuana that is safe because it has been tested, labeled, and is being sold in sealed packaging.”

No other Ohio organization seems to be eyeing the 2015 ballot scene, so ResponsibleOhio may have something of a jump on this issue. It also helps that, per the Cleveland Leader's reporting, the group has ties to wealth. 

Other state groups are focused on 2016 efforts.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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