Ohio Politics

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State officeholder says he smoked weed in the 70s, is opposed to Issue 3

Katie Wedell of the Springfield-News Sun talked to Ohio Auditor Dave Yost Monday who says he experimented with marijuana while a student at Ohio State University in the 1970s, but that doesn’t negate his current stance against legalized recreational marijuana and Issue 3.

Speaking at Springfield Rotary on Monday, Yost said he is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and thinks Ohioans should be able to vote to end the drug’s prohibition if that’s their wish.

He opposes Issue 3’s creation of a “cartel” of investors and supports the passage of Issue 2 to prevent special interests from being written into the Ohio constitution.

Issue 3 is ResponsibleOhio’s ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana both for medical and recreational use, establish 10 grow sites across the state and allow adults to harvest up to four plants at home for personal use.

Issue 2 was put on the ballot by state lawmakers and would outlaw monopolies in the state constitution and could void Issue 3, even if it passes.

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“Legalization of pot is a fine thing,” if the voters want it, Yost told our statehouse reporter Laura Bischoff back in May before the introduction of Issue 2. There is nothing in the amendment that prohibits the legalization of marijuana by voter initiative down the line.

“You could even go so far as to say we want to legalize it for recreation and medical and there shall only be 12 places… that wouldn’t run afoul (of Issue 2),” he said in May. “It’s only when you start drilling down and singling out the winners and the losers that it becomes a problem.

But even under the right circumstances, Yost said he doesn’t personally support recreational use. He’d like to see more data on public safety and health impact from states like Colorado before he would do so.

“It’s amazing to me that someone like Dave, who smoked marijuana, is so concerned about it. Obviously it didn't affect him becoming an auditor,” said Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, countering Yost’s claims that weed is a gateway drug.

“If it was a gateway to anything it was a gateway for David Yost to become the auditor of state,” he said.

Yost confirmed to Bischoff back in May that he smoked pot in college, but said during his years as a prosecutor he saw the devastating effects of drug addiction and therefore is not in favor of recreational legalization.

Yost and other politicians are using scare tactics to continue a failed prohibition, James said.

“It's kind of reefer madness, fear tactics that voters reject,” he said.

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