In a clever move, a couple of Ohio state representatives chose April 20 to introduce bill language for the Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis. It would allow for cultivation, use by adults over the age of 21 and possession of up to 2.5 ounces.
State Reps. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, introduced the initiative, sponsored by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“We’re taking matters into our own hands and we are today filing a bill that will be responsive to the voters, the hundreds of thousands who signed those petitions and the millions who agree with them that it’s time to legalize,” Weinstein told News 5 Cleveland. “We think it’s time to heed the will of the voters. We think this time has come for Ohio, and we’re ready to take some action on it today.”
Perhaps he is right. Perhaps legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana IS supported by the voters. But there are other factors to consider. Marijuana is legal in 18 states, and the reasons have more to do with money than popularity.
Ohio State University studied the potential economic impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, and the Ohio Capital Journal reported that study showed such a shift could mean as much as $375 million in annual tax revenue for the state.
“Whatever tax structure is adopted, our analysis suggests it is reasonable to predict that Ohio would collect hundreds of millions in annual cannabis tax revenues from a mature adult-use cannabis market,” the researchers, from OSU’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, reported.
That does not mean lawmakers can go into this without serious consideration of the risks. There is a lot of research left to do; and the wellbeing of Ohioans must take precedence. However, should their research lead them to believe there is a way to pass such legislation in a way that minimizes those risks and maximizes benefit to Ohioans, elected officials must go into the discussion with an open mind.