Eight years ago the bill was rejected in a referendum, but on Tuesday the time had come: with a clear 57 to 43 percent, the residents of Ohio in the American Midwest voted in favor of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis. Once the proposal is approved by the local legislature, adults aged 21 and over in Ohio will be allowed to possess 2.5 ounces (about 70 grams) of cannabis and grow up to six plants.
Since the approved referendum was not a proposal to change the local constitution, the local parliament can still amend the proposal, or even simply ignore it. Both the state’s Republican governor and the Republican majority in the local House of Representatives remain strongly opposed to legalization. Yet it is expected that they will not be able to simply ignore such a clear majority.
According to Tom Haren, spokesman for the pro-regulation group Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, “cannabis is no longer a controversial topic.” “Ohioans have made it very clear the future they want for our state: legal and regulated use of cannabis.”
With Ohio, cannabis is allowed in 24 of the 50 US states and the capital Washington DC, which together account for 53 percent of the total population. In seven other states, the use of marijuana is still legally prohibited, but in practice it has already been decriminalized. In 38 states, marijuana is only legal for medicinal use.
The debate over the legalization of marijuana has been going on in the United States for years. On January 1, 2014, Colorado became the first American state to approve the recreational use of the soft drug, after which one state after another followed. In addition to Ohio, Delaware, Minnesota and Maryland also legalized the soft drug this year.
Republican politicians and voters in particular remain strongly opposed to making marijuana legal and point to the health risks. Proponents say that legalization offers the government more opportunities to better regulate the market. Both the production and sales processes are removed from illegality and can therefore be controlled, which would not be possible without legalization. There is also now much more research into the health effects of cannabis, and both the police and the legal system can focus on other tasks.
Moreover, the regulated sale of cannabis also brings in a lot of money for the state treasury. In Ohio, for example, there will be a 10 percent tax, money that will be used to finance control, but also for health programs for addicts of other drugs.
That additional revenue for the state will also likely put pressure on neighboring states Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, as residents of those states are likely to spend their money in Ohio to buy marijuana. Estimates show that legal cannabis sales in Ohio – the seventh largest state in the US by population – could generate $1.5 billion to $2 billion after just one year, and $4 billion by the fourth year.
In our country, PS Deputy Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne argued in an interview at the end of August The morning even before legalizing cannabis. “When it comes to safety and public health, the legalization of cannabis is a priority for PS,” Dermagne even said. “I don’t think it makes sense anymore to keep asking our police to endlessly prosecute cannabis users and put them in jail. That repression doesn’t work.”