Marijuana in Ohio
By: Aracelli Ramirez
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) discovered certain ingredients in marijuana that can cure illnesses like epilepsy, mental disorders, and addictions. Although, no overdoses have ever been reported from marijuana use, this is still a controversial topic that is dividing the nation. According to NIDA, only nine percent of marijuana users developed a dependency.
In 1969 Pew Research asked Americans if they think marijuana should be legalized, 12 percent said, yes. The same survey question was asked 49 years later in 2018, where 62 percent said, they were in favor of it.
It’s clear that times are changing, but will the laws?
On Nov 6th, Ohioans will have to opportunity to vote on whether to decriminalize marijuana or keep the current laws in place.
If passed, Issue One would lessen the jail sentence for low level crimes if the offender participates in an educational or rehabilitation program.
Offenses like obtaining, possessing or using drugs would be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.
In an article published by the Dayton Daily News, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley touched on the issue of marijuana in the city.
“It’s not a gateway drug and it’s not as adverse as alcohol, and though we don’t want young people smoking marijuana,” Whaley said. “We don’t want it to be criminalized.”
Richard Hairston, a millennial and senior at Wright State University, supports issue one.
“This issue will allow people who use and abuse drugs to not just go to jail, but they will be able to get help and be able to go into programs where they can understand where their drug problem lies,” Hairston said. “It cuts back on the number of people we have in prison as well, our tax dollars will stop going to making these big prisons and putting people in prison when they actually need help.”
Unlike her peers, Ayriel Kimbrough, a history major at Wright State, opposes issue one.
“I think if they are going to decriminalize marijuana it’s just going to open doors for more drug activity to enter our area. How are they going to regulate that in the workplace? Is everyone just going to be high all day? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s dangerous especially for people who work in factories like many of my friends. How do you know the person operating that machine isn’t high? It’s just risky all around.”
Proposition 47 passed by the state of California in 2014, mirrors the basis of Issue One. The law reduced drug related felonies to misdemeanors and allowed for inmates to apply for resentencing. As a result, Los Angeles County Jail freed 1,316 prisoners and narcotics arrests decreased by one-third.
Garrick Byers, the President of the California Public Defenders Association, said there was a positive effect from Proposition 47.
“It reduced the punishment for many crimes from an excessive punishment to a punishment that's more in line with what the crime is,” Byers said. “They're still getting a criminal punishment, nobody's getting off free.
“But it is more commonly probation, more commonly a lower lock-up time, more commonly a punishment that is going to result in rehabilitation,” he concluded.
But not everyone saw this positive change, LAPD Chief Bernard Parks noticed more burglaries and thefts. The graph shows the total crime rates declined in 2015 as a result of Proposition 47.
Currently, possession of 100 grams or more of marijuana in Ohio involves paying a fine and prison time. The penalties vary depending on how much of the substance is possessed and if it’s being cultivated or sold.
Although there are efforts to decriminalize marijuana, it is still illegal. Decriminalizing it will solely lessen the punishment.
Medical marijuana is a different story, House Bill 523 legalized marijuana for medicinal uses for Ohioans with certain medical conditions like AIDS, cancer, and HIV.
According to NIDA, cannabinoids, THC and CBD, are the medicinal ingredients that help treat illnesses.
Hairston says he supports medical marijuana if it’s going to help someone with a medical condition, but is opposed to recreational use.
“Think about it, you’re inhaling smoke, God did not create our lungs to inhale anything that is smoke, they only thing we’re supposed to be inhaling is oxygen,” Hairston said. “It’s still a flame that is lighting it up, that’s gas that we’re not supposed to be inhaling.”
“It’s an herb that God gave us, and we turned it into something that its not,” he concluded.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted an animal study and found that THC and CBD help to reduce cancer cells and slow the growth of brain tumors.
History was made in 2017, when the first medical marijuana processing plant broke ground in Yellow Springs, Ohio. According to the Dayton Daily News, Cresco Labs’ 23,294 square foot greenhouse will be used to produce cannabis oil based products while running using renewable resources to run 85 percent of the business.