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Ohio Simply Can’t Afford to Enact Bad Policies Like Marijuana Legalization
Ohio already faces huge challenges economically. It can’t afford to add to those woes everything bad that comes with marijuana legalization.
He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door
If you are a John Denver fan, you will recognize those lyrics from his super-hit, “Rocky Mountain High.” In mid-June 1998, I was, well, in my 27th year and a year out of law school when I packed a U-Haul truck moving from Ohio to Colorado. Like the song, upon arriving in Colorado, I was born again, as my heart and soul just felt better with the Rocky Mountains in view (also could have been the mile high thinner air doing something to my brain…). How’d I make the decision to heed Horace Greeley’s 1853 call to “Go West, young man, go west!"? After I took the Ohio Bar Exam in late July of 1997, I fulfilled a long-planned trip by hopping in my car with 100 CDs and doing a massive 20-day loop out West that took me to the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Custer’s Last Stand, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters on the Moon, Flaming Gorge, and Denver. I fell in love with the Mountain West—from the massive clouds to the open expanses to those majestic mountain peaks. Upon my return to Ohio in late August, I started work at a law firm in my office on the 25th Floor of a high-rise in downtown Columbus. After nine months of asking myself nearly every night why I stayed in Ohio when my heart was out West, I realized I didn’t have a good answer, so got a job offer from a big Colorado law firm and literally lived Denver’s famous song that summer.
I spent six great years in Colorado doing Colorado things. I climbed mountains and skied. Watched my beloved Avs win the Stanley Cup. I ditched my law degree for politics then got pulled to Washington, D.C., for three years, eventually landing back in Columbus where I’ve been for the last seventeen years. There is a very, very long story with more twists and turns than a Dan Brown book about how that happened, but that story is for another day. From the day I left Colorado on March 1, 2004, to today, hardly a day has gone by when I didn’t think about the Mountain West and miss it dearly. My family and friends know about this yearning because I annoyingly mention it far too often:-) I try to go back at least once per year just to breathe in the sheer beauty of those mountains and spend time with my Colorado family and friends.
By now you are wondering, why in the world is Matt telling me this vignette? I’m sharing that little personal story because I want you to know how much I loved Colorado. Did you see what I did there? I used the past tense. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Mountain West and will spend half my year there at some point in the future on my own slice of paradise, but my love for Denver has faded even though that city makes Columbus look like a small town lost in the 1990s—I think Denver has added more high-rise buildings in the last twenty years than Columbus has in its entire existence. What happened to Denver, you ask?
Two words: marijuana legalization…with actually two more: damn Californians.
Back in 2012, Coloradans (not the natives, but those damn Left Coast Californians who have turned Colorado from purple to deep blue) passed a law to legalize marijuana, which went into effect in 2014. Now, there seems to be a pot dispensary store on every corner in Denver, which brought in a massive influx of homeless people and their tent camps, as well as more crime, drug dependency, and more of the exact wrong people you want to attract to a state (young potheads—my God, they are EVERYWHERE). Colorado has become so dependent on the taxes generated from pot sales that even the rare conservative politician who gets elected shills for the industry (see former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner). But for getting to eat at my all-time favorite Mexican restaurant (Blue Bonnet); taking in a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field with my adopted Colorado parents, Walt and Cheryl; or going to an Avs hockey match in my Peter Forsberg sweater, I’d literally bypass Denver entirely and just fly straight to Aspen, Vail, or Steamboat or rent a car and drive right into the mountains. Marijuana legalization has ruined Denver with what came with that act.
With those picturesque mountains, Colorado can get away with enacting dumb policies, as people will still flock there to hike, ski, fish, and bask in the 300+ days of sunshine its gets every year on those fifty-six mountains above 14,000 feet. Ohio most certainly is NOT Colorado--just 175 days of sunny or partly sunny days and the tallest “peak” to hike or ski is Campbell Hill at 1,459 feet. If Ohio passes Issue 2, Ohio will get everything that comes with marijuana legalization:
An influx of young and poor potheads who can’t afford to move to Colorado;
An increase in homeless people, tent camps, and drug dependency;
More crime, including auto accidents due to driving under the influence of marijuana; and
Greater reliance by government on marijuana taxes.
Keep in mind, the marijuana of today is far more potent and addictive than what people smoked back in the 1980s and 1990s. With the increased lacing of marijuana with fentanyl and tranquilizer narcotics to make the highs even more powerful, don’t be surprised to see even more Ohioans overdosing and dying post-legalization.
Ohio already legalized gambling, which John Kasich improperly expanded unilaterally to grab more tax money. By legalizing marijuana, Ohio will be on its way to becoming the vice capital of the Midwest, which is not a moniker it should seek. If the radical pro-abortion law also passes, Ohio will have abortion clinics and pot dispensaries on every corner of its big cities. We won’t produce America’s best and brightest; rather, Ohio will produce Kermit Gosnells and Jeff Spicolis. Is that really what Ohio wants to become in 2024? I certainly hope not. If I was governor of Ohio, I would kill the casinos and the lottery, as I don’t believe government should be involved in those vices, which disproportionately take money from those least able to afford to lose it.
Let’s pray Ohioans have the good sense to reject marijuana legalization. Ohio already faces huge challenges economically. It can’t afford to add to those woes everything bad that comes with marijuana legalization.