Issue 2: What you told us about proposal to legalize recreational marijuana

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Last month, the Dayton Daily News, Journal-News and Springfield News-Sun asked our readers for their thoughts on Issue 2 on the November ballot, a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio and regulate it like alcohol.

Responses were overwhelmingly in support of the measure. Of 386 respondents, 79% support Issue 2. Here’s the full breakdown:

We are not pretending this is a scientific survey. As we recently reported, an actual survey by Baldwin Wallace University found 57% of respondents supporting Issue 2, 35.1% said they would vote against it and 7.5% were undecided.

Respondents to the survey by this news outlet gave us numerous perspectives for their support or opposition to the measure. We followed up with interviews with some respondents.

“I don’t believe in laws that try to protect people from themselves or tell people what they can or cannot do with their own body,” said Nathaniel Mastick, a nurse in Clark County. He didn’t deny that marijuana could be addictive, but reasoned that if alcohol is legal, then marijuana should be too, given that its effects on health are “pretty benign” in comparison.

“I’ve worked at a hospital for 10 years, and we’ve never had anybody in marijuana withdrawal,” he said. “But, we’ve definitely had a lot of people in alcohol withdrawal and a lot of end-stage organ failure, especially liver, as a result of alcohol — a lot of nasty stuff that nobody should ever want to go through or see. I’ve never seen that with marijuana.”

For other readers, like John Paul of Montgomery County, the argument that marijuana is comparable to alcohol, or even slightly better, doesn’t lead him to conclude that both should be legal.

“I (do) think that it’s similar to alcohol: It’s not good for your health, it’s not good for people, it would be difficult to monitor people driving under the influence,” Paul said. “...The abuses of alcohol far outweigh the qualities of alcohol, so I would say that you would expect a similar experience with marijuana — it would be abused and the effects would be negative on society.”

Ultimately, Paul concluded that he doesn’t “see a need for legalizing a drug that’s primary purpose is to make you high.”

In general, survey respondents opposed to Issue 2 expressed concern about people driving under the influence, the smell of it being everywhere, and fears it will exacerbate Ohio’s drug problems.

Themes among survey respondents supporting Issue 2 include the belief that marijuana has medicinal benefits, it’s safer than alcohol, the potential for tax revenue, and belief that it should be a personal choice.

Jason McNeal, a Clark County voter who describes his political leanings as a mix of libertarian and conservative, characterized such laws as “government intrusion.”

“I think people should just be able to have the freedom to do what they want to do to their own bodies, I guess,” McNeal said. “Smoking pot is a victimless crime that people get punished for and I don’t agree with it.”

The most important place to express your will, of course, is at the ballot box. Voting on this issue and lots of other important races and issues is underway through Election Day on Nov. 7.