By Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch
Source: Columbus Dispatch
cannabis Ohio -- Attorney General Mike DeWine defended the Ohio Ballot Board summary of a marijuana legalization proposal, saying it gave voters a “plain speak” description of a “supersized amendment.”
DeWine’s filing with the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday said the board took ResponsibleOhio’s complicated and lengthy amendment and fairly condensed it to “a digestible, comprehensible format.” The overall amendment is so wordy, DeWine said, that it would increase the total length of the Ohio Constitution by more than 10 percent.
ResponsibleOhio, the group proposing legalizing marijuana for Ohioans age 21 or older, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 27 in the Ohio Supreme Court claiming wording on Issue 3 would “mislead, deceive or defraud voters.”
Attorney Andy Douglas, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice who represents the marijuana group, complained about what he said is prejudicial language, deliberate omissions and outright falsehoods in the Ballot Board summary. He asked the court to order the language redone or to use a different summary done by DeWine’s office in March.
In addition to DeWine’s 123-page legal response, attorneys representing businesses, hospitals, farmers and a pro-marijuana group filed “friend of the court” briefs.
A major thrust of DeWine’s argument focused on the sheer volume of the for-profit marijuana proposal. He said that if ResponsibleOhio is successful in convincing the court to approve a longer summary for the Nov. 3 ballot, it would cost taxpayers dearly.
An affidavit from J. Patrick McDonald, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said using a longer summary would require an additional ballot card, costing the board “approximately $200,000 in printing alone.”
The Ballot Board summary, DeWine said, “does not adopt the favorable spin they (ResponsibleOhio) want to put on their proposal to encourage its passage. ... The Ballot Board has no obligation to incorporate the tactical choices and persuasive bent the proponents of an amendment advocate.”
A filing by the National Federal of Independent Business Ohio, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and Ohioans to End Prohibition further battered arguments made by Responsible Ohio.
The brief said the Ballot Board’s use of the word recreational in reference to individual use of marijuana was an “eminently reasonable and fair way to describe nonmedical use of marijuana.” That description is supported, the groups added, by ResponsibleOhio’s use of a costumed mascot, “Buddie,” on college campuses. Buddie has a large marijuana bud for a head and is dressed like a superhero.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said its members “particularly are concerned about the monopolizing effect of the proposal which limits the ability to produce a product to only one group of people and enshrines that right into the Ohio Constitution.”
The issue must be decided quickly because the ballot has to be finalized and printed before Oct. 6, when Ohioans begin voting in person and by mail.
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Author: Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch
Published: September 8, 2015
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch