Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing series, The Second Coming of Cannabis. Every week we’ve been taking a closer look at cannabis’ past, present, and future. With Illinois becoming the newest state to end marijuana prohibition, we thought it would be interesting to explore what legalization could look like in Ohio.
Illinois marks the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis use, and also the 2nd midwest state to do so. That also means that now over a quarter of the US population will live in a state where marijuana is legal to use recreationally by adults. Let me say that again, 25% of the US population will now live where cannabis is legal. It seems that the winds of change are percolating through the country and the buzz around nationwide legalization is getting stronger as it was recently announced that a congressional subcommittee will hold hearings on legislative proposals to allow states to set their own cannabis policies.
Even still, the failure of Ohio’s 2015’s ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis use is fresh in our memories. There were many things wrong with the effort four years ago, but rather than allowing the failure to consume us, we can look to learn from it and the legalization of states around us help us become successful on the next attempt at legalization.
Take for example the way in which marijuana was legalized in Illinois. Rather than by popular referendum, with voters casting their opinion at the ballot box, Illinois passed a bill through legislation, becoming only the second state to end cannabis prohibition in this way. Also, their new law will vacate some 800,000 marijuana convictions and also directs some of the tax money collected through legal marijuana sales to be pumped into historically impoverished neighborhoods and encourages minority ownership of dispensaries. Most importantly, “…the law amounted to what experts and advocates described as the most progressive and carefully structured attempt at legalization to date—one that could have ripple effects on drug markets and addiction treatment throughout the Midwest.” 
This is encouraging to us. With each new state that legalizes cannabis, advocates and activists gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.. We have a similar number of convictions for marijuana possession in Ohio that would be expunged in Ohio if we passed similar legislation here. And we all know all too well that Ohio has one of the highest opiate death rates in the country, an estimated 39.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000.  Think of all the lives that could be saved by ending marijuana prohibition and directing tax revenue to treatment centers to help our friends and family beat addiction.
Perhaps the biggest lesson from 2015’s failure and Illinois’ recent success is the method that was used for legalization that I referred to earlier. It appears that Illinois has left a thorough blueprint for what can be accomplished with the right legislation. So how can we have success like that in Ohio? Simple. Vote for those parties who would be in favor of passing such legislation. If we vote in progressive politicians that are willing to put forward a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in Ohio, we too can see the social and economic benefits that cannabis can bring to Ohio. So do your research. Support candidates that support cannabis. Get involved! You can find more info at OhioCannabis.com, our facebook and our instagram.
Be kind babies.
Written by OhioCannabis.com contributor Sassy Lunchbox, [email protected]