By JD LONG
[Note: This is a story that was published in our June 29th print edition]
CADIZ –Ohio’s voters had the chance in 2015 to join the growing party of marijuana states in legalizing the contentious herb and now? It’s Cadiz’s turn alone where four years ago the county (and state), snubbed its nose at legalization by a vote of 3,327 to 2,027, a difference of 1,300 votes.
Last Friday, standing along Lincoln Ave. in the exact spot representatives of Responsible Ohio were engaging motorists four years ago to pull over and sign their petition, Bill Schmitt stood with helpers, Andrew Crow of Bellaire and Kayla McKeever of Cadiz.
Schmitt explained that Responsible Ohio was a statewide bill where his Sensible Movement Coalition is a local decriminalization initiative. When asked if he feared a carryover from marijuana’s failure four years ago, Schmitt sounded not the least concerned.
“This doesn’t make anybody money,” Schmitt said in reference to the bill four years ago where it was aiming for full legalization. Schmitt said this time it is only for decriminalization.
Schmitt explained part of the predicament was to use his own example stating that he’d been busted around eight times earlier in his life and if marijuana had been legalized, or at least decriminalized, then he would not have had those arrests because of medical reasons. Now, Schmitt wants to decriminalize it up to 200 grams without it being a crime.
Schmitt said he obtained around 80 signatures in one hour with 133 needed to be placed on the November ballot. People were heard honking their horns as they drove by with several vehicles pulling over, as well.
Where the 2015 Issue 3 would have created a monopoly of 10 marijuana growers, along with a host of other conditions for additional growers and recreational use, Schmitt doesn’t go in for all those edibles making states like Colorado wealthier.
“All that bulls_t needs to go away,” he said.
Regarding Ohio’s laws he said there are many levels of decriminalization at the state level but he said Ohio’s isn’t working. He said it has already been decriminalized in Bellaire with active petitions ongoing in West Virginia, Columbus and Kansas City, Mo.
Schmitt stated on Thursday he is now up to 112 signatures and has until mid-July to meet the deadline. He said the police need to focus on getting real crime off the streets and not waste time with simple marijuana arrests.
“Zero penalty is what works,” Schmitt said adamantly. “Right now Ohio decriminalization is okay and better than other states but it stops me from adopting a child, getting certain jobs [and] student loans (FAFSA).”