EATON — Organizers of the Legalize Ohio 2016 movement held an informational meeting at Taffy’s in Eaton on Saturday, Dec. 5.
The event was open to everyone – supporters and opponents alike – and explained the basis of the campaign.
Michael Hiles, the Butler and Preble County coordinator and CMO of Legalize Ohio 2016 led the meeting and assured those in attendance that this movement is not affiliated with the failed ResponsibleOhio movement.
Hiles spoke briefly on the failings of ResponsibleOhio, noting that it was essentially a cartel where ten companies and their investors would profit greatly. It would also put the regulation on a state level into the hands of a handful of people.
They also tried to “mobilize” voters – namely GenX and Millenials – during an off-election year, which did not prove to be a fruitful move on their behalf.
Focus then shifted to the current campaign. In June, members of Ohioans to End Prohibition (OTEP) got language of their Cannabis Control Amendment approved by Ohio’s Attorney General. This will allow the amendment to be on the November ballot if they can get 305,000 signatures by June 1.
They also need to procure signatures in 44 of the state’s 88 counties, with a minimum of 10 percent of the voting turnout statewide. The upcoming election is also looking to add two million voters – 85 percent of them members of GenX or Millennials.
Hiles spoke about the economic implications of legalization as well.
In a report from Equities Magazine, the cannabis biotech business is worth around $20 billion nationally.
“Not some brand new thing where there are a bunch of dope dealers hustling weed out of the alley. This is big business, there is big economic opportunity,” said Hiles. “My focus is jobs and economic opportunity.”
While adult use is the most controversial topic of discussion currently, economically Colorado – which has a population of about 5.6 million people – is on track to bring in $48 million of tax revenue annually.
“That’s a pretty big economic boon,” said Hiles. “If there are criminal justice and law enforcement increases and increases in treatment, all of the budget has been more than amply covered by tax revenue.”
Another flaw from ResponsibleOhio’s campaign which was discussed during the meeting was the alienation of hemp and the farming industry, he said.
Hiles noted, farmers are the backbone of some of Ohio’s principal economy in agriculture. The movement plans on placing an emphasis on the values that hemp can bring to farmers as a crop.
Taffy’s will serve as a permanent signing station for residents of Preble County who wish to sign the petition.
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.