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Group Trying To Legalize Pot In Ohio Uses Liquor Laws As Template

One of the groups that want to put an issue on the ballot this fall to legal marijuana production and use in Ohio is releasing more details about its plan, and they're using Ohio's liquor laws as a road map. If you want to buy a beer legally in Ohio, you have to be 21. And you have to buy it from a place that’s licensed to sell that beer. And that business that sells it to you has to obey strict rules to keep its liquor license. Chris Stock with the group Responsible Ohio says those are key components of his group’s proposal that, if passed by voters, would allow legal marijuana production and use.

It was patterned on the liquor laws because we think the liquor do a good job of balancing safety and distribution for Ohioans.

Under this plan, cannabis production would be limited to 10 sites identified in the amendment. Those sites haven’t been named yet. Another five sites, which also haven’t been identified, would test the marijuana for safety and potency. A seven-member commission would audit and oversee those establishments and enforce regulations, and a 15 percent tax on marijuana would go to local governments. Stock says local voters would be able to determine whether the product could be sold in their communities. “We want to make sure that retail stores still have a very strict local control component," says Stock. "So before a retail store can go online, it must go through a local option election in the precinct. So the precinct, the voters in each precinct ,must vote up or down, as to the location of that store.” Stock says this amendment, if passed, would create thousands of jobs. But Marcie Siedel, the Executive Director of the Drug Free Action Alliance, says Ohioans should not be swayed into thinking Responsible Ohio’s plan is a responsible idea. “While there are many who are kind of dazzled by the dollar signs and want it to seem like it is the right, responsible thing to do when they can put all the pieces in place, we know, from watching other states, that businesses and families pay the price for public policies like this," Siedel says. Siedel says she still has many questions about this proposal.

It’s an incredibly complex issue and it needs to be looked and dealt with at a very detailed level.

Another group has proposed putting a different marijuana legalization plan on the ballot. That plan doesn’t have as many details at this point. But polls have suggested that the time is now for a medical marijuana issue: A Quinnipiac University poll last February showed Ohioans support the use of medical marijuana by an eight-to-one margin, and just over half of respondents said they support allowing adults to possess pot for personal use.