Indiana’s neighbor to vote on marijuana legalization. Advocates say there’s a lot at stake.

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Voters in Ohio will decide on Tuesday whether to legalize recreational marijuana, but people on both sides of the issue say more hangs in the balance than simply decriminalizing the drug.

Supporters of legalization say Ohio can reclaim tax revenue being lost to states such as Michigan, where marijuana is legal, and take power from illegal drug markets through government regulation. But opponents warn of increased workforce and traffic accidents by people under the influence, and argue much of the revenue will land in the pocket of the marijuana industry, not taxpayers.

Issue 2 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of cannabis and 15 grams (about a half-ounce) of extract, and to grow up to six plants per individual through a government program. A 10% tax would be imposed on any purchases, with those proceeds going toward administrative costs and addiction treatment in the state and to municipalities that host dispensaries.

It would also create a social equity program to give a financial boost to people who want to start a business selling or growing cannabis and who meet certain criteria. They or a family member would need to have had a past run-in with the law for marijuana, and be part of a disadvantaged group based on race, gender, disability or economic considerations.

The program would fall under the Division of Cannabis Control in the state Department of Commerce, an office that will fashion the rules around licensing, testing and product standards, among other regulations.

If it passes, Ohio would become the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use, a move that supporters say socially and financially makes sense for the state.

“We’re taking money away from drug dealers and Michigan dispensary owners and putting it back into the pockets of our local governments,” said Tom Haren, spokesperson for the pro-legalization campaign Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

The measure also gives those with marijuana-related arrests and convictions, as well as their loved ones, a chance to benefit from the industry once possession of cannabis is no longer illegal. Haren said a marijuana charge can make life much harder for people and has a “downstream effect” on their families.

Issue 2, should it pass, would also create greater access for those who may not be able to afford medical marijuana through their insurance or get a doctor to sign off on it. This includes veterans, according to Haren, who usually get their insurance through the federal government—which has not cleared marijuana for medical or recreational use.

But even if it gets the needed votes Tuesday, the future of marijuana use will not be entirely set.

As a citizen-initiated statute, the measure went first to the Republican-dominated Legislature. Lawmakers had four months to pass it, under state law. But with many — if not all—GOP legislators heartily against it, the measure did not move.

After the election, if it passes, state law calls for the measure to return again to the Legislature, where lawmakers can tweak it to their liking. They can also vote to repeal it entirely, as GOP Senate President Matt Huffman has indicated could happen.

Opponents of Issue 2, including Ohio prosecutors and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, are in line with Huffman.

“There’s legalization, which generally people have a live-and-let-live attitude about. And then there’s Issue 2,” said Scott Milburn, spokesperson for Protect Ohio Workers and Families, the main campaign against the issue.

The measure, opponents say, gives around one third of the revenue in that 10% tax revenue back to the marijuana industry—making it more of a benefit to marijuana corporations and small businesses than to taxpayers.

And according to Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, the portion allotted for costs such as addiction treatment and administration under the 10% tax isn’t enough, and the tax would at least need to be doubled to pay for what the measure says it would.

The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association has also cautioned that legalization could lead to greater traffic and workforce accidents, as well as increased substance abuse among state residents.

Last year, a study by the by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administratio n found that 54% of injured or killed drivers had drugs or alcohol in their systems, with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, the most prevalent.

The study looked at over 7,000 cases from seven different hospitals around the country from 2019 to 2021, but the authors of the study cautioned that it’s not indicative of drivers nationwide, especially when tracking data on marijuana use and traffic accidents is still so new.

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11 thoughts on “Indiana’s neighbor to vote on marijuana legalization. Advocates say there’s a lot at stake.

    1. Remember when Indiana legalized casinos and put them specifically near state borders to try to get that out-of-state money?

      Visionary behavior compared to today’s behavior.

    2. If only everyone harping on this subject would use their time and energy on something more constructive than wanting to sit around and get high…

    3. V K–

      My thoughts exactly. Fundamentally, I don’t really care if its legalized, if there are good safety measures surrounding reckless and irresponsible use (there aren’t). But trying to say it’s good for the economy? Lots of bad things are still good for the economy. War is great for a certain subset of defense-minded investors. There’s terrific money to be made in legalizing fentanyl. Why not?

      Absolutely no discussion among the “legalize it” crowd if yet another self-stupefying substance has anything to do with the marked uptick in vehicle fatalities (driving while high simply gets swept under the rug most of the time) or the increase in those filthy disgusting homeless junkie trash camps. Colorado was the state to pioneer all of this, and its Civic Center Plaza (a really beautiful space as recently as the early 2010s) is now just a giant Bidenville.

  1. Eli Lilly’s 1907 doctoral thesis at the nation’s first college of pharmacy, The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, was on cannabis. Under his leadership Eli Lilly & Co. became a world class manufacturer of cannabis based pharmaceuticals with 23 items containing cannabis for sale in 1935. It was not science but reefer madness that brought this to an end. Professors at the college still call his doctoral thesis groundbreaking.
    http://www.indianapolismonthly.com/features/eli-lillys-hazy-memory

    http://www.hempcures.work

  2. This booming industry is unregulated and dangerous. Had a family member almost die from buying THC from a “medical use” dispensary in Illinois last year. Had seizures and was in the hospital for 17 days. The ICU docs said they see it regularly. People think that because it’s a legalized dispensary, the products are safe. They’re not. It’s not a regulated industry, the companies buying the product don’t know what’s in it. Dangerous and ridiculous, but hey, there’s more tax money to be had by the state, right? What a joke.

    1. What exactly was the cause of your family member almost dying? I’ve NEVER heard of such a thing, other than people freaking out due to just being too high from inexperience and not knowing their own tolerance level, like alcohol. Sounds like an anomaly, as some also have to prescription drugs…

  3. The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.

    Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological live, from the sub-cellular to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond, Here’s one example: autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of its contents to be self-digested and recycled is mediated by the cannabinoid system. White this process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation and subsequent recycling of cellular products, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumor cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide. The death of cancer cells, of course, promotes homeostasis and survival at the level of the entire organism.

    Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and damage called by the injury.
    Dustin Sulak, DO, Healer.com, from Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids, A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, NORML, 2021

  4. “If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient anointing oil and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ.” Chris Bennett, Historian

    Two limestone monoliths, interpreted as altars, were found in the Judahite shrine at Tel Arad. Unidentified dark material preserved on their upper surfaces was submitted for organic residue analysis at two unrelated laboratories that used similar established extraction methods. On the smaller altar, residues of cannabinoids such as Δ9-teterahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) were detected, along with an assortment of terpenes and terpenoids, suggesting that cannabis inflorescences had been burnt on it. Organic residues attributed to animal dung were also found, suggesting that the cannabis resin had been mixed with dung to enable mild heating. The larger altar contained an assemblage of indicative triterpenes such as boswellic acid and norursatriene, which derives from frankincense. The additional presence of animal fat―in related compounds such as testosterone, androstene and cholesterol―suggests that resin was mixed with it to facilitate evaporation. These well-preserved residues shed new light on the use of 8th century Arad altars and on incense offerings in Judah during the Iron Age. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046? fbclid=lwAR14SQ0RWyhrSWdMv34AMyOXR-WJ_Kil5pHHXdh9RyllEU_Tu3EllmSsv9M&

  5. Let’s not forget alcohol and cigarettes kill way more people than marijuana and those industries have successfully pushed for legislature to help their industry for years. We all know what happned the last time the government tried to prohibit something the public likes. That’s how Al Capone and organized crime came into existence. There’s a legit argument to be made in that there’s plenty of revenue to made for the state and that Indiana is losing out on millions to neighboring states.

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