It’s a No-Brainer, and Long Overdue, that Marijuana Be Legalized in Ohio. Asserted By: Dave Lange


Strangely, the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is lobbying for pot legalization in Ohio. A constitutional amendment to that effect will be on the ballot in November 2023, barring any new political impediment erected by the anti-freedom caucus in Columbus.

Everyone is aware, or at least should be, that drunk driving causes hundreds of deaths on American roads every year. Thirty percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 occurred due to pedestrians, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

The Journal of Research on Alcohol and Drugs found that places, where recreational marijuana use was permitted, saw a 4 percent increase in fatal car accidents. Several studies in different states have shown that the rate of fatal accidents might change by as much as 10% after legalization.

When attempting to objectively compare the risks associated with driving under the influence of alcohol is under the influence of marijuana, objectivity becomes tricky.

More shocking is the fact that excessive alcohol usage causes over 140,000 fatalities annually in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Six alcohol-related fatalities are recorded daily by the CDC.

Marijuana consumption has been linked to almost no fatalities. There have been no known deaths from marijuana overdoses, and even the DEA admits as much.

For all intents and purposes, marijuana should be legal whereas alcohol should be prohibited.

Well, that happened here in the United States between 1920, when Prohibition was enacted by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, and 1933, when it was overturned by the 21st Amendment. That bit of background knowledge is common knowledge.

They know less about the medical benefits of marijuana, which have been known since at least the 1830s. Even during Prohibition, it could be bought at American pharmacies and used to treat a wide range of conditions. Several studies have confirmed its efficacy in lowering the frequency and severity of epileptic attacks in kids.

In the early 1900s, when large numbers of Mexicans immigrated to the United States, they brought with them a longstanding culture of marijuana use. In the 1930s, Federal Bureau of Narcotics director Harry J. Anslinger declared war on marijuana.

Anslinger’s exploitation of “racialized anxieties” to push through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is mentioned in the 2022 report “Redressing America’s Racial Cannabis Laws” by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Maybe not coincidentally with the legalization of alcohol four years earlier, the act essentially made marijuana illegal in the United States.

The racial implications are still visible in the current rate of marijuana arrests. Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana, even though use is about the same between races, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

It wasn’t until 1970 that the Controlled Substances Act took the place of the Marihuana Tax Act. Like heroin, which the CDC reports caused over 13,000 overdose fatalities in 2020, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government for the past 53 years.

NORML, an organization advocating for marijuana legalization, reports that although arrests for marijuana had decreased dramatically in Ohio, from 18,335 in 2018 to 6,450 in 2021, they still made up 37% of all drug busts in the state that year.

Having reduced possession of fewer than 100 grams of marijuana to a “minor misdemeanor,” Ohio became the sixth state to do so in 1975, under the administration of Gov. James Rhodes. In 2016, it joined the ranks of the other 25 states where medical marijuana use is authorized for specific conditions.

Now, the question is whether Ohio will join its neighbor Michigan in becoming the 22nd state to legalize recreational, or adult-use, marijuana, or whether Ohio residents will continue to support Michigan’s booming market after that state did so in 2019.

Michigan is the second largest market in the United States, behind only California, thanks to last year’s almost $2.3 billion in sales. State and municipal governments in Michigan benefit significantly from the additional 10% excise tax on marijuana purchases.

Ohio, along with Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Hawaii, has been predicted by the Valley View-based Cannabis Business Times as one of four states most likely to legalize marijuana this year.

The majority of Ohioans (60%) support this, according to a poll conducted by Spectrum News and the Siena College Research Center last October.

Retired newspaper editor and inductee into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame David Lange has a master’s degree in political science.

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