On November 3, Ohio voters will get to weigh in on whether or not marijuana should be legalized. The measure, written by ResponsibleOhio, received 320,267 signatures from Ohio voters – enough to secure a spot on the impending ballot.
Secretary of State John Husted allowed ResponsibleOhio ten extra days to secure the signatures it needed – state law allows a ten day extension for organizations that come up short on signatures for ballot measures.
According to ResponsibleOhio, legalizing marijuana in Ohio could result in the following benefits:
- By 2020, the marijuana industry could amount to upwards of $4.1 billion
- The legalization of marijuana could generate up to 10,000 jobs
- In terms of tax revenue, the marijuana industry could funnel $554 million into Ohio municipalities
Legalizing marijuana would amend the Ohio constitution to allow adults over the age of 21 to use pot, allow individuals under 21 to use pot with parental consent, and regulate the growth of marijuana. If Ohioans approve of the measure, Ohio would become the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana.
While the measure did get enough signatures to appear on the November ballot, do Ohioans actually want marijuana to become legal? Public opinion of legalizing pot has changed drastically in recent years. According to a poll conducted last year, about 51 percent of respondents said that they support making adult marijuana possession in small quantities legal.
To garner support, ResponsibleOhio is focusing on promoting the many benefits of marijuana, such as its ability to treat Alzheimer’s and other conditions like arthritis and epilepsy. The group also focuses on personal responsibility, comparing marijuana use to alcohol use – fine for adults when used responsibly.
Sentencing for Nonviolent Drug Crimes
Because of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, many people are in prison right now because they were arrested for low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenses. According to the ACLU, in 2010, 52% of all drug arrests were for marijuana. In 2013, 88% of marijuana arrests were for possession only. That same year, 1.5 million people were arrested in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges.
The Consequences of a Marijuana Conviction
A drug bust for pot could mean losing your job or a number of other collateral consequences, such as loss of public benefits. Legalizing marijuana would drastically cut back on the bloated prison population, save money, and prevent people from being punished in a way that’s disproportionate with the crime.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug offense, Koffel Brininger Nesbitt can step in to help. We are passionate about treatment, rehabilitation, and fairness for all.