During last Friday morning’s Sunbury Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce candidates breakfast, Ohio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Doehrel recommended that chamber members vote “yes” for State Issue 1 and State Issue 2, and vote “no” for State Issue 3.
State Issue 1 is a bipartisan “Fair Districts For Ohio” ballot initiative regarding redistricting that, if approved, would not become effective until 2022.
State Issue 2 is a proposed anti-monopoly amendment to the Ohio Constitution; State Issue 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana growing, sale and use in Ohio.
Doehrel said State Issue 2, if approved by voters, would prevent the Ohio Constitution being used advantageously by private business interests, and it would also serve as a checkmate against Issue 3, the legalization of marijuana.
“A lot of folks are trying to take the Ohio Constitution and use it for their own benefit,” Doehrel said. “Preventing monopolies from being written into the Ohio Constitution is nothing but good solid public policy.”
Doehrel said State Issue 3 is not just about the legalization of marijuana; if approved by voters, it would set up a marijuana commission at the state level, and create a monopoly with 10 growing sites in Ohio.
“The only people who would profit from this entity would be the owners of those 10 locations,” Doehrel said. “It would allow 1,100 locations for the sale of marijuana in Ohio. When you consider that there are only 220 locations for Starbucks in Ohio, there would be more marijuana outlets than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined in the state.”
Doehrel said the marijuana commission would set its own tax rate, and allow the creation and sale of marijuana products like Gummy Bears and lollipops.
“If you flood the state with pot, how does that help employment in the state of Ohio?” Doehrel asked. “If an individual had were certified by a doctor that they could use marijuana for medical reasons, that individual could use marijuana in the workplace. That would create an untenable situation in the state of Ohio. We should not use the Ohio Constitution in this manner.”
Doehrel said the consultants behind State Issue 3 are the same consultants that ran the casino amendment to the Ohio Constitution.
“This is not about people who want to use recreational marijuana; we’re talking about impacting thousands of folks,” Doehrel said. “What’s going to happen at Halloween when Gummy Bears and lollipops end up in children’s candy bags, intentionally or accidentally? In Colorado, there’s been a 30 percent increase in hospitalizations for kids from 12 to 17 because of marijuana ingestion, and driving under the influence is up 45 percent. This is not the right approach for the state of Ohio.”
Doehrel said if State Issue 2 and State Issue 3 are both approved, they are going to be in costly litigation for years.
Also at the chamber breakfast were Leo Wilhelm and Frank Dantonio, candidates for a seat on the Genoa Township Board of Trustees. Mary Beth Freeman stumped for approval of the Delaware Area Career Center’s 10-year, 1.7-mill levy renewal, and Sherrie Steele, a candidate for the position of Harlem Township fiscal officer, also stumped for votes. Steele is running against Julie Debolt, who did not attend the chamber breakfast.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093