Ohio Gov. and Health Commissioners Oppose Cannabis Legalization

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and the Ohio Association of Health Commissioners, which represents the state’s 112 local health departments, have come out against the state’s upcoming adult-use cannabis legalization ballot initiative.

Full story after the jump.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has come out in opposition of adult-use cannabis legalization in the state, telling the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board last week that the reforms would “be a real mistake,” WSYX reports. On Tuesday, the Ohio Association of Health Commissioners (AOHC), which represents Ohio’s 112 local health departments, also urged citizens to vote “no” on the proposal. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose last week confirmed that the campaign seeking to legalize cannabis for adult use had gathered enough signatures to put the issue on November ballots. 

DeWine said he opposes the reforms due to the “unmitigated disaster” he heard about from physicians and law enforcement in Colorado post-legalization, and that today’s cannabis products are “not your grandparents’ marijuana.”  

Tom Haren, chair of the Cannabis Law Group in Cleveland and spokesman for the legalization campaign pushed back against DeWine’s comments, telling WSYX that “The governor must not have spoken to anybody from Colorado recently, because what I can tell you is their program is a huge success.” 

“I’ll tell you why it’s not your grandfather’s marijuana: your grandfather’s marijuana wasn’t tested in a pharmaceutical-grade testing lab. It wasn’t produced in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) quality cultivation facility, right? It wasn’t subject to a statewide rigorous regulatory framework.” — Haren to WSYX 

In a press release announcing the health commissioners’ opposition, authored by Protect Ohio Workers and Families which opposes the legalization campaign, AOHC Executive Director Beth Bickford argued that “Making marijuana more accessible through legal recreational use and retail sales hurts Ohio, creates serious new risks for children’s health” and makes “workplaces and highways less safe.” 

“Public health departments advance policies and resources that help all Ohioans live healthier lives and that includes helping them avoid and overcome drugs of addiction like marijuana,” she wrote. “With Ohio’s rates of opiate abuse and overdoses still among the highest in the country, we need to be helping Ohio find solutions to addiction, not facilitating it or the interests of an industry that profits from it.”   

Haren noted that Ohio already has an adult-use market – the illicit market – and that street dealers “are happy to sell to the kids.” 

“An adult use program is going to benefit almost everybody in the state, whether you’re participating in the market, whether you finally have an alternative to the black market to purchase adult use cannabis products,” he told WSYX. “Everybody lives in a community here in Ohio, and this additional tax revenue that we’re going to generate under our proposal is going to be reinvested back into our local communities. So we think this is going to be a great thing for the entire state.” 

The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio Adolescent Health Association also oppose the reforms.  

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