Dear Ohio NORML members & supporters,
We are entering the end of marihuana prohibition. My sincerest hope is that we can work together towards our common mutual goal, while maintaining respect for others and a willingness to hear different views.
It is going to be an interesting year, which may or may not bring an end to marihuana prohibition in Ohio. If we do happen to end marihuana prohibition in Ohio this year, we will surely quicken the pace as to when it will end in America. It will be at that time, when marijuana will move freely across state lines, and the marketplace will become much closer to my own personal views, which you can read more about by using the links below. Many of you share these same views, and many of you have a difference of opinion.
It is now time, that we put aside these differences that have arisen, and focus on the long-term goal of ending marihuana prohibition (sooner rather than later for everyone’s sake). There are many worthy short-term efforts that are very achievable, such as the driving license suspension issue and local efforts being driven in our communities via resolutions, ordinances and ballots. These will help us work together and maintain a focus on our mission.
Below my signature is a copy of the email from Kevin Mahmalji, National NORML Chapter Coordinator, containing Ohio NORML’s election results. My best wishes to Linda and all that voted for her. It is now time to focus on ending marijuana prohibition and reversing all of the collateral negative effects it has brought to our communities.
Ohio NORML President
----ELECTION RESULTS ELECTION RESULTS ELECTION RESULTS ELECTION RESULTS----
From: Kevin Mahmalji
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 6:41 PM
Subject: Ohio NORML Election Results
I'd like to thank everyone for participating in this year's Ohio NORML Board election. I can confidently assure each of you that it was a transparent and democratic process. The integrity of the election was maintained throughout the entire voting and verification process.
Below are the final results for Ohio NORML President:
Rob Ryan - 87
Linda Bumpass - 46
Ohio NORML's President has had extensive ongoing conversations with the author of ResponsibleOhio Ballot amendment. On Monday 2/16/15 President’s day there was a face to face meeting during the heavy snowfall in Cincinnati. Included in the conversation was Cincinnati-Dayton’s Miami Valley NORML Chapter VP Danielle Vitale-O’Brien where we expressed and discussed some of our concerns. We suggested several modifications during that open dialogue with the author.
ResponsibleOhio was open to consider and include some of our recommendations. We are pleased to hear that a lower tax rate and the home growing option will be included. This will further minimize the black market that is currently thriving here in Ohio and further our own goal of re-legalization of Marihuana here in Ohio.
Below is a press release from ResponsibleOhio on the changes to their language of the Re-legalization of Marihuana ballot effort here in Ohio.
RESPONSIBLEOHIO TO INCLUDE HOME GROWING OF MARIJUANA, 5% RETAIL TAX RATE IN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Effort to Collect Signatures for New Proposal Begins This Week
COLUMBUS – ResponsibleOhio announced today that its proposal to legalize marijuana for medical and personal use is being revised to allow adults 21 and older to obtain a license to grow marijuana at home. Additionally, marijuana purchased at licensed retail stores will now be taxed at a rate of 5%.
“After extensive conversations with experts and concerned citizens across the state and nation, ResponsibleOhio has decided to include regulated and limited home growing as a part of our amendment,” said ResponsibleOhio Spokesperson Lydia Bolander. “Combined with a lower tax rate for consumers, these changes will make our communities safer by smothering the black market.”
The revised amendment follows the recently enacted Oregon model, which will allow adults over 21 to obtain a license to grow up to four marijuana plants in an enclosed, secure space that cannot be accessed by people under 21 years of age. Those who home grow would be prohibited from selling marijuana to others.
“ResponsibleOhio’s plan will allow those over 21 to grow their own marijuana for personal use, but forbid their sale of marijuana to the public,” Bolander explained. “We believe that like alcohol, marijuana can be used safely and should be tightly regulated. Adults over 21 years of age are legally permitted to brew their own beer, but they aren’t permitted to sell it. Our amendment will allow limited and tightly regulated home grow of marijuana, but like home brewing, individuals will not be allowed to sell to the public.”
This week, ResponsibleOhio will begin circulating the new amendment language and collecting the required signatures to file with the Attorney General’s office.
You don't have to look too hard to see marijuana legalization efforts in several states that have a good chance of being approved by the voters. But many of those efforts are mired-down with competing proposals and competing proponents that could easily undermine the ability of supporters in those states to actually change public policy and end prohibition.
The inability to accept compromise in the interest of building a winning coalition threatens to turn some of these political opportunities into losing efforts. And that would be a disaster.
Specifically, different factions with different political demands are competing for control of the issue in Massachusetts, Ohio and California, three large and important states that would add enormous legitimacy and political credibility to the legalization movement, were they to approve legalization.
My purpose here is not to try to evaluate the competing claims, but rather to discuss the importance of thinking strategically as we continue these discussions and work our way closer to the ballot.
All of us, when we consider what should be included in a good legalization proposal, could reach a consensus on the major points. It should legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults and establish a legally regulated market where marijuana smokers could obtain marijuana, regardless of why they use it, that is safe, convenient and affordable. We need to know the marijuana is free from molds and pesticides, and we need to know the levels of THC and CBD, at a minimum.
But under those general principles, there are many questions that still need to be answered. Will personal cultivation be permitted, and with what controls or limitations? What quantity will an adult be permitted to possess? What will be the qualifications to obtain a license to grow or sell marijuana, and who will principally profit from the new legal system? What level of taxation will be approved, keeping in mind the need to minimize the black market? Will the state require a showing of impaired driving before a DUID charge can be brought, or will the mere presence of THC the system be sufficient?
These are all important issues, but no one of them is nearly as important as ending marijuana prohibition itself (regardless of the details), and we should try to avoid drawing a bright line and saying if these specific points are not met, we will oppose (or fail to support) the legalization proposal.
If it is a legislative proposal, the sponsor may require some compromise in order to introduce the bill. If it is a voter initiative, the funders may require some compromises before putting up the money necessary to collect the required signatures and to run a professional ad campaign once the initiative qualifies for the ballot. So there will always be some compromise involved, and none of these early proposals will be perfect. If we made them perfect, they would not likely be approved. Our majority support for legalization is relatively slim, and each controversial provision that is added on scares a few more of our supporters away.
National NORML, for example, strongly supports the right of a consumer to cultivate their own marijuana, but we nonetheless supported the legalization initiative in Washington state in 2012, despite the lack of a provision allowing personal cultivation. It was so important to get those first couple of legalization initiatives approved, to demonstrate that legalization was a political possibility and to stimulate other legalization efforts in other states, we supported the proposal, although it was far from perfect.
Hopefully we will be able to go back to these early states and make improvements once the initial laws have been implemented for a time, and we have the benefit of actual experience to inform us. Right now elected officials are discussing the likelihood of amending the WA legalization system to permit consumers to grow their own recreational pot, an improvement that would be an important element of any agreement to combine the medical and recreational systems in the state.
There are other issues that continue to unfairly harm marijuana smokers, even in these legalization states. For example, the early legalization states do not provide protection against job discrimination, requiring no showing of workplace impairment before employees can be fired for THC in their system; or protect parents who smoke from having to demonstrate they are fit parents, despite their marijuana smoking. Eventually we should have the support to enact legalization laws that do include provisions to protect responsible smokers in both of these situations. But we are not yet there.
It took us 75 years to get into this mess, and we will not be able to fix all of the problems overnight. But as the public support continues to move in our direction, and with the demographics working in our favor, it will get easier and easier to improve our legalization proposals over the coming years.
Concerning the legalization ballot being proposed in Ohio, below are comments from NORML’s Founder Keith Stroup, "Radical" Russ Bellville, Robert Ryan on Marijuana Legalization and Rob Ryan's review of ResponsibleOhio draft language.
NORML’s Founder Keith Stroup on Marijuana Legalization
From the national NORML standpoint, we try to allow the various state groups to work these compromises out on their own -- that is, we try to establish the basics of what a good legalization bill would include, while recognizing that in most situations, some compromises will be necessary. If it is a legislative proposal, the sponsor may require some compromise in order to introduce the bill. If it is a voter initiative, the funders may require some compromises before putting up the money necessary to collect the required signatures and to run a professional ad campaign once the initiative qualifies for the ballot.
National NORML strongly supports the right of a consumer to cultivate their own marijuana, for example, but we nonetheless supported the legalization initiative in Washington state in 2012, despite the lack of personal cultivation. It was so important to get those first couple of legalization initiatives approved, to demonstrate that legalization was a political possibility and to stimulate other legalization efforts in other states, we felt it would be foolish to oppose the proposal, although it was far from perfect. Hopefully we will be able to go back to these early states and make improvements once the initial laws have been implemented for a time, and we have the benefit of actual experience to inform us. They are discussing the likelihood of amending the WA legalization system now to permit consumers to grow their own recreational pot.
It is important to keep in mind that none of these early legalization proposals that pass will be perfect. We continue to build support for legalization, especially among the majority of Americans who are not smokers, and if we attempted to include every provision that we would like included, we would lose some of our current support and likely the proposal would fail to be approved -- and we would end up with nothing. For example, the early legalization states do not provide protection against job discrimination, or protect parents who smoke from having to demonstrate they are fir parents despite their marijuana smoking. Eventually we should be able to enact legalization laws that do include provisions to protect responsible smokers in both of these situations. But if we insisted on including them now, we would face the likely opposition of every chamber of commerce in the state, and every corporate entity, and every parents' organization, and we would lose the initiative.
It took us 75 years to get into this mess, and we will not be able to fix all of the problems overnight. But the public support continues to move in our direction, and with the demographics working in our favor, it will get easier and easier to improve our legalization proposals over the coming years.
I hope this helps explain our tendency to stand back and permit the individual states to work out these compromises on their own.
NORML Legal Counsel
Russ Belville on NORML support of legalization initiatives
Well, I'm not National, but I always think the operative question when it comes to NORML support of legalization initiatives (besides "is it on the ballot?") is "Can I answer the door and talk to a cop with a smoldering joint on my lips and not end up in handcuffs?" The next question, then, is "if that cop sees my grow, do I end up in handcuffs?" And the third question is "can I got to a store and buy some pot?" I've got to have a "Yes" on Q1 in order to support it. I'd like a "Yes" on Q2, but it's not a dealbreaker (see: I-502), and a "Yes" on Q3 is even less of a dealbreaker.
I'd prefer not to see an Ohio 10-grower constitutional monopoly, but if they are the players with the will, money, and support to get it passed, it would protect marijuana consumers. If I get the option of telling consumers which of many plans to choose (again, presuming "Is it on / going to be on the ballot?"), then whichever language gets the most "Yes" to my three questions gets the support, but I'd not oppose the others.
Activists need to get beyond binary legalization/prohibition thinking and recognize that legalization is a spectrum (see the Washington Post article of the RAND report overview at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/01/16/a-dozen-ways-to-legalize-the-marijuana-supply-chain-in-vermont-or-any-state/). Activists also need to recognize that all the true-believer volunteers in the state mean nothing against a small group of committed individuals with money and power.
"Radical" Russ Belville
Host of The Russ Belville Show at http://RadicalRuss.com
LIVE at 3pm Pacific on http://420RADIO.org
Russ Belville on NORML support of legalization initiatives
Reasonable Ohio Marihuana Re-Legalization By Rob Ryan, Ohio NORML President
We are at the point in history where Marihuana Legalization is clearly foreseeable. I attended a forum in May 2014 on Marijuana Legalization sponsored by the Ohio Supreme Court. The focus was not on “IF” or “WHEN”, it was all about “HOW”. That is the primary question facing us now. We all have to realize that some compromises will be required in order to re-legalize marihuana. This should be done in a manner that will encourage cooperation, have a positive impact, and be honest. There are as many possibilities as there are people who want it to happen. The purpose of this letter is to illustrate one possibility from my personal viewpoint. The first step one has to realize is that there are some fundamental facts. The most important is that marihuana is not deadly, addictive nor without medical use as the Ohio government currently says it is.
There are a whole range of uses for cannabis AKA marihuana. On one end of the legalization spectrum is the human consumption. Human consumption has many forms like food, medicine (an area rich in potential therapeutic application) and of course smoking.
Opponents of legalization are correct in one respect. There will be large “BIG BUDS” companies (commercial entities) that should grudgingly share the market with “SMALL BUDS” (Like Budweiser & micro brewers), and hopefully ignoring the tiny amount of non-commercial home enthusiasts caring for their personal small garden. A visible legal company is a much better situation than a hidden underground criminal enterprise with no government controls.
The dividing line between the home grower and the “BIG BUD / SMALL BUDS” is that the home grower is not engaged in a commercial operation with financial transactions. Consumers should have knowledge of the product they are purchasing with basic health and safety quality controls similar to commercially processed foods and beverages. One word of caution is towards the edibles. I would insert a production delay until product contents, packaging, and labeling requirements are settled; using experience and knowledge leveraged from other states that are further along on the legalization learning curve.
At the other end of the spectrum are the non-consumption industrial applications with the potential to fill in gaps of our industrial & farm economy. There are a variety of products that can be derived from the plant. Textiles, plastics, fuel, and various oils are obvious. More interesting are some of the more advanced applications in energy storage such as specially coated nanotubes and the various applications in manufacturing automobiles.
I suggest that market be divided into at least three segments composed of producers, wholesale/processor/distributor, and retail operations. In-between these segments are where government control, taxation mechanisms, and product quality would be ideally located.
Funds generated by taxes will be subject of much discussion. The basic level of taxation should be targeted to eliminate or minimize the black market, and generate enough funds for our drug issues such as the heroin problem, treatment, and mental health needs. I would include a needs-based education grant system, as well as a source of much needed funding for state and local governments. Tax levels should vary based on the level of active content (beer-wine-whiskey analogy). Licensing fees should be tiered based on the size of the operation, along with local taxation and control that is subject to established zoning mechanisms. Financial transactions need to be transparent to eliminate black market influences. The potential dangers on this path to re-legalization are greed and ego.
Flexibility is an important element in any law, especially in the case of marihuana re-legalization. Constitutional amendments are best if they are as brief as possible and have some flexibility to be updated and refined. The Cannabis Control Commission concept, composed of various viewpoints and experiences, found in a recent medical marihuana ballot language has merit. The selection of Commission members is crucial. The current medical cannabis (marijuana) ballot language has a critical flaw in who chooses the commission membership. A cannabis commission should represent a diversity of fields of specialists with knowledge and experience that is free from self-financial interest. A Lincolnesque team of rivals, with members chosen from and by organizations representing prosecutors, defense attorneys, farmers, industrial, law enforcement, civil rights, marihuana advocates, substance abuse and government representation, would be an ideal group to formulate the rules of the road for marihuana re-legalization.
Additionally, record expungement and driver's license suspension are important. The Cincinnati City Council recently passed a resolution urging the state legislature and the Governor to consider the expungement of previous marihuana offenses. The path to removing driver's license suspension has already started with the recent passage of SCR 27. Both can and should be addressed by our representatives’s legislative action.
Your own personal viewpoint may be different than mine above. This is where my own views, yours, and others have to find common ground. If we are rigid in our ideology it will be counterproductive to the eventual re-legalization of marihuana. Overall I think a multi-faceted market with government control that is free of criminal black market criminals and corruption is much better than the current environment. But the future is certain; marihuana will be re-legalized, so we just need to deal with it in an adult and rational manner. Bringing an end to Marihuana Prohibition is the right thing to do and support.
Ohio NORML President
Review of ResponsibleOhio marihuana legalization ballot language by Robert Ryan
I was provided an opportunity to review a draft of the ResponsibleOhio ballot language. In that meeting Ohio NORML's Mission, Vision and Objectives were shared with representatives of ResponsibleOhio prior to reviewing their draft document.
Ohio NORML’s mission is to re-legalize marihuana for personal, industrial and therapeutic use. Our vision of the future is one where cannabis (AKA Marihuana) is legally grown, bought, sold and properly labeled in a controlled and regulated manner free of black market influences, including growing for personal use. RepsonibleOhio representatives were in agreement with our position on marihuana re-legalization. Furthermore they accepted a number of suggestions to modify their language. Their willingness to listen and adjust the amendment made their draft amendment stronger.
At this time, no official ballot language has been released; so to jump to conclusion about the ballot measure is premature. Based upon the draft reviewed, some of the statements being voiced about ResponsbileOhio language have assumptions that are not accurate nor true.
Ohio NORML President