Photo from Pixabay.

Dopers, smokers, midnight tokers, lend me thine bloodshot eyes.

We push ever-closer toward legalizing the devil’s lettuce in Ohio.

Did you know that there are in fact four different proposals to legalize the use of marijuana to some extent or another, two in 2015 and two in 2016?

While some proposals, in my opinion, are better than others, all are better than the status quo.

I’m going to skip the whole bit about arguing the numerous points why weed prohibition is arbitrary, wasteful, needlessly limiting (both medicinally and economically), and hopelessly absurd.

The case has been made and proved time and again. The argument has been won… by people who are high. The opposition has been refuted… by people who are high. And that alone says just about everything that needs to be said.

The four groups vying with marijuana proposals must first get 1,000 signatures, approval from the Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Ballot Board. Once the Ballot Board gives the go-ahead, petitioners must collect 305,591 valid signatures—meeting a certain threshold in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties—with a July 1 deadline to appear on the November ballot, according to Cleveland.com.

And now, to the proposals!


• ResponsibleOhio:

ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Amendment would legalize marijuana for medical and personal use by adults 21 years of age and older. The amendment also would allow adults 21 and older to grow up to four marijuana plants for personal use in a secure, enclosed area.

It also establishes a highly regulated industry with all medical and retail marijuana grown at 10 sites throughout Ohio. In this way it has attracted large amounts of money from campaign investors interested in controlling those grow sites.

The amendment would tax marijuana at 15 percent when grown and manufactured and five percent at retail.

The proposal was accepted by the AG’s office on its second attempt, approved by the Ohio Ballot Board as one issue, and is now collecting signatures for its second round of petitions.

• Ohio Rights Group:

The Ohio Rights Group for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment is currently circulating petitions, targeting either the November 2015 or November 2016 ballot.

That Ohio Rights Group amendment would allow Ohio residents 18 and older to use, possess, acquire and produce marijuana for medical use, with children qualifying with permission of parent or guardian.

The amendment would further declassify hemp as a drug and allow farmers to grow it, as well as require new tests to determine impairment instead of urine or blood tests that show recent marijuana use but not necessarily present marijuana intoxication at the time of the test.

This petition has been approved by the AG’s office as well as the ballot board and is currently collecting signatures to appear on the ballot.


• Ohioans to End Prohibition:

Ohioans to End Prohibition have proposed the Cannabis Control Amendment for November 2016. This amendment would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and over for personal and medical use, though medical marijuana would not be taxed.

This amendment would allow voters to ban commercial production and distribution in their individual communities, and adults would be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes while farmers could grow industrial hemp.

Profits from marijuana sales would fund drug education and addiction treatment as well as Ohio’s public pensions system.

The group began collecting signatures this month (April 2015) but the proposal has not yet been submitted to the AG’s office or the ballot board.

• Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis:

The group Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis, which is distinct from ResponsibleOhio, is proposing the End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act, and targeting November 2016.

This amendment would allow adults 18 and older to produce and use marijuana and marijuana products. It would also legalize the growth of industrial hemp. Adult Ohioans would be allowed to possess up to 99 plants and 99 kilograms of marijuana for personal use. The amendment does not tax marijuana sales, but a sales tax could be applied.

The amendment would also release inmates in prison and jail for marijuana crimes and expunge records for committing marijuana-related crimes.

An initial draft summary fell short on signatures and was rejected by the AG’s office in February. The group plans to resubmit.

As I said, while I will support any one of these proposals over current Ohio law, I do have my preferences.

(Do not read my thoughts shared here as any endorsement one way or the other by Plunderbund. My thoughts come from my own head, and it would be a tremendous miscarriage of justice to hold Plunderbund accountable for any of the madness that occurs in there.)

ResponsibleOhio’s proposal enjoys a significant fundraising advantage and big money support due to its detailed manufacturing and production plans. Those plans also write business law into the Ohio Constitution in a way that doesn’t sit well with me (which is the same problem I had with Ohio’s casino amendment years back).

The ResponsibleOhio proposal was rewritten after criticism to include home growth up to four plants, which is better to me than the none it allowed before, but I still consider it unduly restrictive.

The Ohio Rights Group’s proposal is mostly good, but I wish they would do away with the pretense of medicinal use. I understand the politics of it. I know voters are more likely to say yes to medicinal marijuana than recreational. But I don’t believe Ohioans should have to get permission from a doctor to smoke on the dodie, and I don’t think marijuana users should have to declare themselves “ill” to enjoy its benefits.

I understand that marijuana does have tremendous medical value, but the fact remains that many users simply enjoy it, and I’d rather not hide behind a “medicinal” pretext. Beyond that, I agree with many of the proposal’s provisions.

I prefer both of the 2016 proposals to the 2015 proposals, and that preference has nothing to do with the fact that  a higher voter turnout in 2016 gives greater odds for success. Trust me, I’d like new marijuana law in Ohio as soon as possible.

I like the two 2016 proposals better simply because they focus more on eliminating prohibition than installing a marijuana program, as it were.

I prefer Responsible Ohioans’ proposal to that of Ohioans to End Prohibition because I prefer to set the age at 18 instead of 21. It boils down to the ol’ soldiers and voters argument to me. You know the one.

I highly recommend following the links provided here, investigating each proposal, and deciding for yourselves. Now go smoke a spliff, grab your frisbee and enjoy this beautiful day, you beautiful ‘heads, but never, ever, ever forget to vote.

David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.