Some might argue that Ohio has already gone to pot under John Kasich, measured by his regressive actions on renewable wind energy, forcing local communities to do more with less funding, forcing women to make terrible choices they don’t have to make in other states, shifting taxes to those still struggling to pay for reduced income tax rates that overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy, and other policies and programs focused on favoring private over public interests.

And while that’s one legitimate view of how Ohio is going to pot, a totally new one that’s really about pot, one slang term for marijuana, is ready to unfold next year as one activist group works to give voters a chance to end marijuana prohibition in another year. If successful, ResponsibleOhio, a group formed to end marijuana prohibition, will make using marijuana for medical and personal use legal for adults 21-years old and older if voters approve a ballot initiative.

“Marijuana for medical and personal use should be a choice made by licensed physicians and adults 21 and older in this state. We are going to end this failed prohibition,” said Lydia Bolander, a spokesperson for the campaign. “Legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use means increased safety because we will regulate, tax and treat marijuana like alcohol,” Bolander said. “We will smother the black market and use the taxes generated to help local communities provide vital public services.”

Bolander said what’s needed is compassion to ensure patients receive treatment. If the campaign works out as ResponsibleOhio wants it to, jobs will be created in the agricultural, wholesale and retail marketplace, which backers say will drive research at state universities and hospitals. “We will have 10 tightly regulated, heavily taxed growing locations. Small business owners will be able to create good jobs and open retail locations with the approval of local voters so we are ensuring local control for communities,” Bolander said in as media release.

Ohio will have the benefit of the experience Coloradans have now that growing and selling marijuana is legal in the Centennial State. Bolander says marijuana will be decriminalized, so lives are no longer destroyed and free law enforcement officers to spend their time investigating and arresting real criminals. “This is about safety, personal freedom, healthy choices, jobs and tax dollars for our communities,” Bolander said.

Gov. John Kasich has made his so-called expression of “compassion” for poor people a central theme. In the last days of his reelection race for governor this year, Kasich promised the best is yet to come in the second half of his administration. It’s impossible to think Mr. Kasich won’t speak out against ResponsibleOhio’s plans, given the governor’s support for traditional Republican anti-marijuana ideology.

Marijuana is legal or partially legal in 27 states as of Nov. 2014, which is up from 23 states in 2013. In 1999, while still a congressman, he voted YES on prohibiting needle exchange & medical marijuana in the District of Columbia. Mr. Kasich has previously weigh-ed in on drug use, saying, “Go ahead and turn off MTV when ‘The Osbournes’ comes on, and refuse to celebrate the drug-filled lifestyle it depicts.”

Mr. Kasich talks often about “lifting people” up and our of the “shadows.” Helping patients receive media treatment by using marijuana would be a real demonstration of lifting people up.

Voters statewide will have a chance to stop the prohibition that’s faced marijuana following the demonization and criminalization of the drug and its use eight decades or so ago.

 

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