After two states near Ohio successfully legalized the recreational use of marijuana, Gov. Mike DeWine said that Ohio will not be following suit. Advocates of legal marijuana have criticized the governor, and urged him to follow the trend.
“It would really be a mistake for Ohio, by legislation, to say that marijuana for adults is just OK," DeWine said, according to Ohio Public Radio. The governor said that marijuana is more potent than a few decades ago and that easy access would be a risk to young people.
DeWine’s press secretary, Dan Tierney, confirmed these statements, but declined to offer any additional comments.
About a dozen states have fully legalized recreational consumption of marijuana, and the majority of states, including Ohio, have some type of medical marijuana program. Public support across the country, including in Ohio, has increased in recent years.
“Governor DeWine is trying to swim upstream against the current of popular will and common sense,” Violet Cavendish, communications manager for Marijuana Policy Project, told The Center Square in an email.
“He's at odds with a significant majority of his constituents as well as the scientific evidence on this issue,” Cavendish said. “If he was serious about protecting young people, he wouldn't ignore the data from multiple studies showing that teen marijuana use rates tend to decrease after legalization laws go into effect. As researchers have suggested, regulating marijuana and imposing age restrictions likely makes marijuana harder for minors to buy.”
Cavendish said that the legal prohibition of marijuana leads to thousands of unnecessary arrests every year and that it forces marijuana into the black market, in which it cannot be regulated. She said that legalizing its use would help law enforcement focus on more serious crime and would bring in tax revenue for the state.