Contrary to what television ads may claim, local law enforcement resources and funds are not spent tracking down marijuana smokers. Our drug enforcement efforts focus on other drugs of abuse, such as prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Our local jail is not full of people caught in possession of a small amount of marijuana. In fact, there are very few people incarcerated in Ohio for a primary offense relating to possession of marijuana.
Supporters of Issue 3 will have you believe that marijuana is a harmless drug and should be legalized and regulated, much the same way as alcohol. They believe that as long as marijuana is used responsibly it should be OK. This belief relies on an incredibly dangerous assumption that marijuana will be used responsibly. Simple observation will tell you that alcohol is not used responsibly. Every year, as a result of alcohol use, deputies from this office respond to numerous domestic violence incidents.
And every year, Ohio experiences hundreds of deaths as a result of traffic accidents, some of which occur right here in Meigs County. It’s not secret that lives are destroyed because of alcoholism. Is it prudent to legalize a psychoactive substance that has the potential to wreak as much or more havoc and destruction on society? Do we want to see more fatal accidents, more problems with drugs in the workplace, decreased productivity from our citizens and more drug treatment problems? The answer is a resounding “no.”
Now let’s look at Issue 3 itself. Issue 3 would cement into the Constitution of Ohio the creation of a billion dollar marijuana monopoly for a small group of wealthy investors. The tax rates accompanying this monopoly would likewise be cemented. Since Issue 3 changes the state constitution, the Ohio Legislature would be powerless to change the members of the monopoly or the tax rate in the future. Even if you believed that marijuana legalization would benefit society, the same benefits would be available under legalized marijuana controlled by a free market and not a monopoly of rich investors. Supporters of Issue 3 want money and power, plain and simple.
In addition, did you know that the manufacture and sale of marijuana is still against federal law, so banks will not accept money for deposit from sources known to be marijuana-related? Did you know that Issue 3 provides no regulation regarding mixing marijuana into food products and candy? Do you want your kids smoking or eating marijuana just because it is legal?
For these reasons and others, groups such as the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio School Boards Association, as well as others too numerous to name, have come out against Issue 3.
In conclusion, the passage of Issue 3 would be detrimental to our community because it would legalize another drug for use by our citizens, which would be much more damaging than alcohol. Even if you disagree with this assertation and are in favor of marijuana legalization, Issue 3 is not the solution. Issue 3 changes the state Constitution, tying the hands of the state Legislature to make future changes and cements control of distribution to a few rich investors. Issue 3 must be defeated.
Meigs County Sheriff Keith O. Wood