I feel like I should start this off by saying that I am entirely for the decriminalization of recreational Marijuana. I don't really want to get to in depth about why that is, but I will give my basic rational as simply as possible. There are a couple main things that would be good about decriminization of pot: 1.) It takes power and income away from criminals & 2.) It decreases government spending on law enforcement while also increasing the government's income. Add that to the fact that marijuana's status makes no sense given how alcohol is treated in the U.S. and you my reasoning on why I believe marijuana should be decriminalized.
So why am I opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio? There are two reasons. I believe firmly in Federalism. I also think Responsible Ohio (the organization trying to get the measure on the Ohio ballot) is shady as fuck.
Responsible Ohio has submitted a petition to the Secretary of State to get a measure on the ballot in November to allow for recreational use of marijuana in Ohio. It has roughly twice the number of required signatures, but the Secretary of State's office is going to try their best to throw out as many of those signatures as they can. However, it is likely that it will be successful and the proposed amendment to Ohio's Constitution will be on the ballot.
The issue with Responsible Ohio is that the amendment was drafted by and the campaign was financed by the proposed growers. The amendment would effectively creates a monopoly on the distribution and sale of marijuana in Ohio by only allowing 10 growers to supply the market.
The Ohio legislature is putting a second ballot measure up that would effectively nullify that proposed amendment. The proposed change the legislature is proposing is to prevent 'a special economic interest' (monopolies) from changing Ohio's Constitution with the ease Responsible Ohio is having. Provided both measure were to pass there would be a protracted and complicated legal situation that would need to be resolved.
Bigger than the shady nature of proposed amendment to legalize recreation marijuana in Ohio, is that it attacks an important foundation of our nation's republic. The principle of Federalism is key the nature of American government. Following that near disaster that was the Articles of Confederation, Federalism avoided having only one central government in a place as large and diverse as the 13 states were while at the same time avoiding having the central made impotent by the power of state and local governments. Basically, what it breaks down to is Federal law cannot be trumped by the states. What is not decided by the Federal government is left to be decided by the States. This was reaffirmed by the outcome of the American Civil War.
Marijuana is currently banned by the Federal government and it is not up to my state or any other state (looking at you Washington, Colorado & Oregon) to change that. Alabama cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples anymore than Ohio can legalize pot because federal law dictates otherwise.
Avoiding conflicting laws between the federal & state government is crucial in U.S. government. It is not simply to avoid confusion amongst the public, which is definitely a valid concern. Respecting Federal law is important to protecting civil rights. The Federal government's record is far from perfect on the matter, but maintaining a strong central government with a liberty-protecting constitution is certainly the best hope we have.
Marijuana is certainly not as crucial as say, marriage equality, but it is important for states to not flippantly pass contradictory laws. If a state feels something is unjust about federal law, there is a way to challenge that law in the courts without creating the inflammatory state vs. federal dynamic that is so harmful.
Thanks for reading