VOICES: The Miami Valley should vote Yes on Issue 2

Ohio voters have a unique opportunity to exercise our power of choice on choice this November. This is not limited to personal freedoms related to Issue 1 (abortion), but the second issue on the ballot, Issue 2. This initiative, aimed to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in Ohio, simultaneously creates a clear path to generating much-needed revenue for the state while respecting and promoting individual freedoms and personal choices. Issue 2 will allow the state to regulate Marijuana in the same manner as alcoholic beverages.

For years, Ohioans have watched 23 other states pass recreational marijuana into law – including our Midwestern friends in Michigan, Missouri, and Illinois. Those states have enjoyed the freedoms associated with decriminalized marijuana. As a native Daytonian and graduate of Dunbar High School, I am personally aware of former classmates becoming victims of the criminal legal system due to a small amount of marijuana in their possession. We’ve all heard the stories about scholarships, housing, and job opportunities being taken from someone due to a minor marijuana conviction or failed drugs test. This November, Ohioans have the ability to continue to destigmatize marijuana in our state.

Just this past August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended to the Drug Enforcement Administration that marijuana be reclassified from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule III controlled substance. A Schedule III classification will impact our ability to conduct medical research, establish taxation policies, and decriminalize the use of marijuana.

Our neighbors to the north — Michigan — passed recreational marijuana into law in 2019, creating over 35,000 new jobs and have a projected 2023 revenue of $2.70 billion. Many Ohioans travel to Michigan to purchase cannabis—passing Issue 2 helps keep Ohioans money in Ohio. Furthermore, Research shows that the regulation of marijuana could void the illegal underground market while also bringing in up to $400M in municipal and state tax dollars by 2028.

Issue 2 would allow Ohioans to have personal freedoms as it relates to personal consumption. There are limits, much like alcohol; but it would create social equity programs to help more people from our community to access grow licenses.

Recent polls suggest that 57% of Ohioans support the recreational use of marijuana. I am in that number. I am supporting Issue 2 because I believe that it will be good long-term for our community to root out the over-criminalization of marijuana and create entrepreneurial opportunities in the field of agriculture. I am supporting Issue 2 and I do not use nor do I have a desire to use marijuana, but I acknowledge the medicinal benefits of the plant for many of my neighbors. Voting yes on Issue 2 helps shape a better, more equitable, and more responsible Ohio.

Desiree Tims is President & CEO of Innovation Ohio.