Four Republican statewide leaders came out strongly against legalizing marijuana in Ohio and they took shots at a proposed constitutional amendment that would name just 10 growing sites for legal pot.
Attorney General Mike DeWine called it a “stupid idea” and Treasurer Josh Mandel said while it might lead to increased Girl Scout cookie sales, it’s a bad idea.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse idea,” said Secretary of State Jon Husted. “If it makes it to the ballot, I would vigorously ask the voters defeat it because I think it would be awful for Ohio.”
Husted added that it is “offensive” that Ohioans will be asked to grant a business monopoly through an amendment to the Ohio Constitution.
ResponsibleOhio plans to seek a constitutional amendment in November 2015 that would name 10 growing sites for legal marijuana, create a marijuana control commission and allow for about 1,200 retail stores across the state. Investors backing ResponsibleOhio are expected to control the grow sites.
The group is expected to roll out ballot language in the coming weeks. That language will have to be approved by DeWine’s office as an accurate summary and then the Ohio Ballot Board, headed by Husted, will have to certify that it is one issue. After that, the group will need to collect 306,000 valid signatures from registered voters by July 1 to make the November ballot.
State Auditor Dave Yost said Ohio should have a constitutional amendment that prohibits any future amendments that carve out business monopolies. In 2009 Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that named four specific casino sites.
Yost asked if creating a monopoly for whorehouses might be next.
Gov. John Kasich is also on the record opposing legalizing marijuana in Ohio.
ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander said marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that wastes $120 million a year in enforcement expenses and denies sick people access to medical pot.
“ResponsibleOhio’s plan will create a tightly regulated, safe, open and transparent market, bringing much-needed revenue to our communities and creating thousands of jobs,” Bolander said. “Ohioans deserve a mature, honest conversation about our proposal because ultimately, the decision about whether to pass this amendment will be made by voters, not politicians.”