With less than two weeks left before Election Day, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio has been discussing his stance against Issue 2, which is a ballot measure that aims to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state. However, recent state data on campaign fundraising have revealed that supporters of the initiative have a significant advantage over opponents. They have managed to raise almost four times the amount of funds that their opponents have collected.
According to DeWine, there seems to be a lot of confusion among voters regarding the cannabis measure and another initiative called Issue 1. This initiative is aimed at ensuring access to contraception, fertility treatment, and abortion. Despite the popularity of both proposals in various polls, DeWine seems to be downplaying their importance.
In an interview with WLWT news, a local NBC affiliate, DeWine expressed his belief that the outcome of the upcoming events will be extremely close. “These are gonna go right down to the wire,” he stated. Despite the fact that there is still confusion about both of them, DeWine is confident that the results will be determined through a tight contest.
When questioned about surveys indicating widespread approval for the legalization of cannabis, the governor was unconcerned.
As he spoke, he recited the classic adage, “The only poll that truly matters is the one held on Election Day.”
According to a recent survey conducted among likely voters, a significant majority of 57 percent expressed their support towards the legalization measure. Interestingly, even a slim majority of Republicans were in favor of this measure. Furthermore, a survey was also conducted among state lawmakers, which revealed that majorities of both Democrats (63 percent) and Republicans (52 percent) anticipated that the measure would be approved by voters.
Over the years, DeWine has been known for his disapproval of the legalization of marijuana. However, in recent interviews, he has been vocal about his opposition to Issue 2. Despite his consistent stance, he has made sure to make his opinion clear in various media outlets.
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In an interview with Spectrum News 1, he expressed his concern about the potential harm to the people of Ohio in exchange for a meager amount of revenue. He suggested that the state should focus on expanding its medical marijuana program rather than pursuing this path.
According to a recent economic report by Scioto Analysis, legalizing through Issue 2 could potentially generate approximately $260 million in net benefits for the state every year.
As per the group, even though there is a possibility that the expenses may surpass the advantages, their simulation model indicates that in 90 percent of plausible situations, the legalization of recreational marijuana would create a positive economic outcome for society.
According to recent findings by Ohio State University researchers, a possible change could generate a significant increase in tax revenue, estimated at $404 million annually.
DeWine is currently criticizing Issue 2, claiming that it is biased against businesses. During his interview with WLWT, he stated that the proposal “favors certain individuals and privileges those who already possess a license to sell medical marijuana over everyone else.”
Ohioans had concerns over a 2015 legalization measure that was rejected by voters on a 64-36 vote. The measure aimed to give control of the market to a small group of producers, which caused many advocates to hold back support. The organizers behind the current campaign have learned from that failure and have crafted the current initiative accordingly.
During a recent interview with WTOL, DeWine expressed his concern that legalizing would be sending a negative message to children.
According to his statement, people tend to assume that marijuana is safe when they see it being legally sold in their state. “They see it being sold legally in their state and say, ‘well, it must, obviously marijuana must be okay,'” he said.
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According to recent filings made by supporters and opponents, the yes campaign currently holds a strong lead in terms of campaign fundraising. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has accumulated nearly $1.2 million in total contributions, while the opposing campaign, Protect Ohio Workers and Families, has raised only a quarter of that amount, with almost $343,000 in contributions.
According to local news sources, Issue 2 campaigns have only spent a total of $1 million leading up to the election, which is significantly lower than the amount spent on campaigns related to Issue 1, the abortion amendment. It is also a small fraction of the nearly $20 million that business interests spent in support of the 2015 legalization measure.
According to the data, the bulk of the funds, approximately $883,000, were contributed by cannabis companies and their executives, indicating their support for the cause. Among the contributors, Curaleaf, a multistate operator based in New York, donated $200,000, while FarmaceuticalRx, a Pittsburgh-based company, contributed $250,000 towards the initiative.
According to Ohio law, it is not permissible to accept donations from donors who choose to remain anonymous. However, two donations amounting to $275,000 were marked as “unknown.” In response to this, campaign spokesperson Tom Haren clarified that those funds were actually contributed by the advocacy group, Marijuana Policy Project.
According to Haren, there was a miscommunication among the staff which resulted in the missing information. However, he has reassured that the information will be updated soon.
On the other hand, those who are against Issue 2 are being funded by several entities, including the Ohio Manufacturers Association, who donated $101,000, a manufacturing company owner who gave $100,000, a nursing home advocacy group that contributed $25,000, the American Jobs and Growth Fund based in Washington D.C. that provided $50,000, and state Sen. George Lang (R) who gave $10,000.
The data related to campaign fundraising is not expected to undergo any updates before the scheduled November 7 election.
On November 7, voters will find a legalization ballot measure that contains several essential provisions. These provisions are crucial in deciding the fate of the proposed legalization measure. The measure’s complete text is available on the Just Like Alcohol website for those who want to read it in full.
Key Provisions of the Legalization Ballot Measure on November 7
Now, let’s take a look at the crucial points included in the legalization ballot measure that will be put to vote on November 7:
- The initiative proposes to allow adults aged 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates.
- Individuals can cultivate up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.
- A 10 percent sales tax will apply to cannabis sales, and the revenue will be divided as follows: 36 percent for supporting social equity and jobs programs, 36 percent for localities permitting adult-use marijuana businesses, 25 percent for education and substance misuse programs, and 3 percent for administrative costs of implementing the system.
- The state Department of Commerce will establish a Division of Cannabis Control with the authority to license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult-use cannabis operators, adult-use testing laboratories, and licensed individuals.
- Existing medical cannabis businesses will receive priority in entering the recreational market, with regulators required to issue adult-use licenses to qualified applicants operating existing medical operations within nine months of enactment.
- The division must also issue 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 adult-use retailer licenses, giving preference to applicants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program. Regulators can issue additional licenses for the recreational market two years after approving the first operator.
- Individual municipalities can choose to prohibit new recreational cannabis companies from opening in their area but cannot block existing medical marijuana firms from adding co-located adult-use operations. Employers can maintain policies prohibiting workers from consuming cannabis for adult use.
- Regulators must establish an agreement with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide cannabis addiction services, including education and treatment for individuals with addiction issues related to cannabis or other controlled substances, including opioids.
- Regarding social equity, some advocates express concern about the absence of specific language on automatic expungements for individuals with convictions related to offenses that would become legal under the legislation. However, the measure includes a provision mandating regulators to study and fund criminal justice reform initiatives, including expungements.
Several Republican officials, including DeWine, have made their stance against the legalization of cannabis clear.
With the commencement of early voting this month, the Republican-controlled Senate has passed a resolution urging citizens to reject the proposed measure. However, despite the party’s stance, various Republican officials in Ohio remain divided on the matter.
According to local media reports, State Sen. Mark Romachuk (R) has expressed his concerns that the approval of Issue 2 could potentially cause more issues for children, on roads, and in workplaces. He believes that this could create difficulties in ensuring safe work environments, especially in industries such as Ohio’s manufacturing businesses, where high alertness and precision are essential.
According to Senate President Matt Huffman (R), if the measure is approved, it will be brought back to the lawmakers for amendments. He stated earlier this month that the plan will not be repealed entirely, but instead, there will be a review of the plan to repeal or modify certain aspects of it.
In the previous month, several lawmakers from Ohio expressed their skepticism regarding the repeal of the voter-approved legalization law. The Dispatch reached out to Rep. Ron Ferguson (R) who stated that there is no majority in both chambers that would support the repeal of the law. He added that there aren’t enough Republicans to put them in the top and that no Democrats would be in favor of it.
As the election date approaches, both sides of the campaign have intensified their messaging and voter mobilization efforts. Recently, the “yes” campaign sent cease and desist letters to TV stations airing what they called false opposition advertisements. Meanwhile, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol released a pro-Issue 2 election ad to promote their cause.
In an effort to bring much-needed clarity and transparency to the ongoing campaign, Attorney General Dave Yost (R) has conducted an analysis of the initiative. He believes that this analysis will equip voters with the necessary information to make informed decisions. Yost acknowledges that the campaign has been marred by “inflamed and inaccurate” rhetoric, and hopes that his analysis will help to dispel any confusion or misinformation.
According to a statement made by DeWine in August, he expressed his opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana. He recounted his visit to Colorado after it legalized the drug in 2012, stating that he witnessed what he called an “unmitigated disaster.”
In 2012, when he was the Governor of Colorado, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) had concerns about the legalization of marijuana leading to an increase in usage among young people. However, he later changed his stance and now believes that those concerns were unfounded.
According to Hickenlooper, the evidence speaks for itself. He firmly believes that there has been no increase in experimentation among teenagers, nor any change in the frequency of use or driving while high. In fact, all the concerns that were initially raised about the legalization of marijuana failed to materialize. It seems that the fears were unfounded, and there is little reason to worry about the impact of legalizing marijuana.
U.S. Representative Dave Joyce (R-OH), who serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has expressed his support for the initiative that will be voted on in November. In contrast to the state’s top Republican lawmakers, Joyce has encouraged all Ohio voters to participate and make their voices heard on this significant issue. His stance suggests that he recognizes the importance of the matter and is willing to support it, despite potential political backlash.
In August, the legalization measure was given the green light by the Ohio Ballot Board, as they approved the summary language.
In May, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in Ohio filed a bill that would legalize marijuana, presenting another avenue for the state to pursue reform. However, the bill has not made any significant progress since then, leaving the decision up to the voters.
Should this initiative be passed as a law, it would increase the number of states that have legalized adult-use to a total of 24.
A total of 31 House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give serious consideration to the benefits of legalizing marijuana as it wraps up its scheduling review process. This bipartisan push comes as more and more states continue to legalize cannabis for medical and/or recreational use, and as public opinion on the matter continues to shift towards legalization. The lawmakers are calling on the DEA to take a hard look at the facts and evidence surrounding marijuana legalization, and to make an informed decision that prioritizes the health and well-being of Americans.