Editorial: Lawmakers’ inaction forced Issue 3 to ballot


Urbana Daily Citizen



The Ohio State Bar Association opposes state Issue 3, the November ballot issue legalizing marijuana, but it’s not why you’d probably think it does.

The OSBA issued its position statement on state Issues 2 and 3 on Sept. 24. In it, the group opposed Issue 3, basically because it writes a law instead of the state legislature writing the law.

“We firmly believe that it was never the intention of the framers of our Constitution to have it cluttered with matters best left to the respective branches of government to manage,” according to the position statement.

Whether you agree with legalizing marijuana or not, we can certainly agree that the Ohio legislature didn’t do anything when it came to discussing legalizing marijuana.

Every time the idea of the state legislature putting the idea on the ballot came up, our representatives and senators punted. The Republican-led group wanted nothing to do with polling Ohioans to see if they thought marijuana should join the ranks of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco as legal drugs in the Buckeye state.

No, instead they just pretended marijuana wasn’t a national debate being solved at the state level. It’s not like 23 states and the District of Columbia passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form or anything. Oh wait, they did. In fact, four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – allow marijuana for recreational use.

Ohio legislators danced around it. They didn’t want to talk about decriminalizing it. They didn’t want to put it to a statewide vote. Instead, they focused on other topics.

That’s why residents went to the lengths ResponsibleOhio, the backer of the amendment, did. They had to spell it all out. They knew if they didn’t, their representatives wouldn’t, since most seem to be outwardly hostile to marijuana legalization. If you can’t go through the “appropriate branches of our government,” as the OSBA’s statement calls the process, then what do you do? You gather the necessary signatures to make it happen.

We oppose Issue 3, but we have no issue with its existence on the November ballot. We think those framers of the Ohio Constitution knew what they were doing when they added a safety valve that enough residents supporting an issue can put it before all voters.

“A constitution is a sacred trust that defines and protects the fundamental rights of the people,” the OSBA opined. “It is a contract between the people and their governmental institutions. It sets forth a framework of citizens’ rights and governments’ responsibilities, and directs our three branches of government: the legislature, the executive and the courts, about how to implement that framework.”

Exactly. And when those branches ignore a segment of the population, they should have every right to bring forth a state issue, so someone can finally say yes or no instead of hemming and hawing in the legislative branch.

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Urbana Daily Citizen

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