Pro-marijuana group visits UA


Emily Maher

The Green Rush Bus group is traveling Ohio to advocate and inform people about legalizing marijuana.

By Staff Writer

Inevitable and taboo—two words that encapsulate the marijuana reform movement across the United States. Inevitable because there is already a great deal of positive traction towards reform but taboo because there is still a stigma associated with marijuana usage.

This is why Responsible Ohio, the group behind Issue 3, is leading the cause towards changing that narrative here in Ohio. Since mid-August, the group has been traveling around Ohio’s 88 counties. Their Green Rush Bus tour has made over 150 stops, The University of Akron is one of them.

Issue 3, on the Ohio ballot for Nov. 3, 2015, is a state constitutional amendment that would allow Ohioans 21 and older the ability to purchase marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

Moreover, it would allow Ohioans the ability to own up to four plants for personal use. Much like alcohol and other controlled substances, there would be limitations on driving and operating heavy machinery while under the influence.

This issue is facing some opposition. The Fraternal Order of Police, The National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio, and a number of major newspapers across the state say issue 3 is bad for Ohio because it would monopolize marijuana growth to only a few sites.

Responsible Ohio argued by saying that the initial 10 growers are not a monopoly and that after four years there would be an opportunity to allow for the addition of more growing sites.

Faith Oltman, a Responsible Ohio spokeswoman, cited the successes of other states such as Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. She highlighted that these states have seen much higher tax revenue.

Furthermore, those states have since become popular tourist attractions because of the addition of marijuana markets. Oltman went on to say that by the time the market stabilizes in 2020 Ohioans would receive an estimated $554,000,000 in tax revenues—which would go to the counties and cities in Ohio.

Oltman stressed the importance of addressing the issue now because in 2016 it has the potential to become a party issue within the presidential debates. Moreover, it could become overshadowed by the 2016 campaigns.

On the surface, Issue 3 presents Ohio the opportunity to become the first state east of Colorado to legalize marijuana. Responsible Ohio and its supporters, this inevitable change will curb black market sales and the dangers associated with it. However, many of its opponents argue this is monopolization and that Ohioans ought to look closely at the language of the initiative more closely.

As Nov. 3 approaches, there is a possibility that Responsible Ohio will visit Akron campus again this fall semester.