Valley dispensaries, police react to the passing of State Issue 2
Ohioans have decided to make recreational marijuana use legal in the Buckeye State.
The passing of State Issue 2 allows Ohioans age 21 and older to possess and grow cannabis. The product's heavy tax dollars go towards cannabis programs, towns with dispensaries, and state funds combating substance abuse. The state's voters were posed with that same question back in 2015 but it was defeated with 64% of the vote not in favor.
Some dispensaries in the area say this will improve tax revenue in the state and allow for wider access to the product.
"We will have another license to open another dispensary," explained Mariah Chirchiglia, Co-Owner of Green Leaf Therapy in Struthers. "And that goes for both dispensaries and cultivators in the state."
Dispensary owners explained the distribution will be very controlled and gave their perspective on a potential uptick in impaired driving rates.
"If you're concerned about distracted driving, and the effects on children, I'd look at some of the older metrics from states who have legalized adult use like California and Colorado," explained Terrell Washington, Owner of Leaf Relief in Boardman. "In the immediate years, did you see a spike or a decrease?"
"Even if the state does allow it, the federal government still has it as a crime," explained Struthers Police Chief Tim Roddy. "We may be opening ourselves up to less federal funding because of it. There's a lot of questions that haven't been answered."
Even with possessing marijuana becoming legal, law enforcement explained they must have a higher alert for those impaired drivers.
"The responsibility is going to be greater on us to determine the level of impairment, especially for driving," Roddy added. "There's going to be more perimeters that we're going to have to cover. There is so many things that have not been covered by what the law is proposing."
Terrell Washington with Leaf Relief said those dollars should go to dispensary operators and not cultivators.
"Nobody's talking about the basically $30 million dollar handout that every cultivator is going to get overnight by giving 3 dispensary licenses for doing absolutely nothing and with no application fee," Washington added.
He added those finer details of the 47-page bill aren't so black and white.
"For example, the Social Equity Clause," he said. "For us to believe we're going to get a Social Equity Clause from the same people that sued the state to strike it down the first time and to think they're going to have a change of heart that's going to cost them money this time," he explained. "I was born at night but i wasn't born yesterday."
With a lot of details to iron out, it's a new age for the State of Ohio, as an effort that's failed several times now becomes a reality in the Buckeye State.
Recreational use of marijuana in Ohio will officially be legal on Decemeber 7th. Dispensaries warn it will take a few years to get adult-use dispensaries up and running.