Issue 2 would legalize recreational marijuana if it does pass, but at the statehouse, some lawmakers say there could be a discussion, even after votes are counted.
“If this passes with 75% of the vote it’s one thing, if it passes with 51% of the vote, it probably changes my attitude,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said.
Issue 2, would legalize recreational marijuana to anyone 21 and over. It would also allow of-age Ohioans to grow six or less cannabis plants from their homes, or up to 12 if the household has two or more adults over 21.
“However that ballot initiative comes out, we should definitely listen to the people when they speak,” Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said.
Lori Criss is the Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services — she said her department is concerned about recreational marijuana legalization.
“It can be something that turns into a more significant or problematic substance use disorder for a person,” Criss said. “With overdose, we know that the potency of marijuana can be pretty extreme and can have health consequences beyond the experience the person is looking for beyond that marijuana.”
Representative Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said the potential side effects of alcohol or tobacco use can be significantly worse than marijuana.
Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said he worries about things like an increased number of people driving under the influence. But Weinstein said concerns have all been considered and are addressed.
“There absolutely are concerns that require protections and that’s why there are so many regulations and safeguards put into the system and built into the law, built into Issue 2,” Weinstein said.
But still, opponents of Issue 2 said they think the cons will ultimately prevail.
“We can’t just keep pulling people out of the river and in this case helping with their mental health problem,” Huffman said. “We have to stop them from falling in the river and coming downstream. A lot more people are going to fall in the river if marijuana is legal recreational.”
DeWine said while a lot of discussions about the next steps will have to be had if Issue 2 does pass, he has ideas — that he said are better solutions.
“We have medical marijuana,” DeWine said. “If that is not meeting a medical need, then that’s something the legislature can certainly look at and I would certainly be open to looking at, so again, there are other avenues to go here.”