GOP Attempts To Amend New Ohio Cannabis Law Meets Resistance From Democratic House Member

Despite the incessant nitpicking on the part of Ohio’s Republican leadership, which is seeking changes to the Nov. 7 voter-approved initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis, one Cleveland representative has stepped up to question what many are calling anti-democratic procedures. 

Republican Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Senate president Matt Huffman are seeking, among other changes, to redirect the usage of the hundreds of millions likely to be raised by excise taxes. One example that is raising the most dissent is the Republicans’ insistence on utilizing cannabis revenue for law enforcement rather than the agreed-upon social equity program and community reinvestment that earmarked tax dollars to support individuals who have been “disproportionately affected by past marijuana-related law enforcement.”

Enter Juanita Brent

Ohio Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleve) underscored the importance of having people who were directly impacted by cannabis prohibition participate in the legal marketplace and have seats at the table, as the Republican leadership moves ahead with its changes.

“If you’ve been criminalized by cannabis, the best thing you can do is come back into the field,” Brent told The Statehouse News Bureau.

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Brent also pointed out that it is equally important that those involved in amending the initiative, known as Issue 2, are not outright anti-cannabis crusaders, which alas seems to be the case in Ohio.

Why Are Prohibitionists Making These Decisions?

“Ohioans have to remember that the people who are trying to be the loudest at the [statehouse] are people who were anti-cannabis,” Brent said. “We cannot have anti-cannabis people leading on what’s going to happen with cannabis. We need people who are involved. We need people who have been doing the work. We need people who have been advocating.”

Social equity provisions, by the way, are built into every legal marijuana program across the U.S. as a way to deal with well-documented racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

Another of Brent’s priorities is that the legislature outline a more defined pathway to recreational marijuana jobs. 

“We need to build more cultivators because there is going to be a lot of demand. We can have dispensaries that we want in the state, but if we don’t have cultivators there will be an increase in price,” she said.

GOP Lawmakers Running Out The Clock Before Dec. 7 Deadline 

Republican lawmakers have said they are planning to publicize their policy changes to Issue 2, Huffman said last week, although he did not give details on the exact proposals or a timeline. 

Huffman famously implied last week that Ohioans had not understood that the social equity elements in the new legalization law were prioritizing people affected by past cannabis-related enforcement.

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