With House Bill 523 becoming law, Ohio has made monumental progress in cannabis reform over the past few months. Although the effort represents great strides in patient care and access as one of the driving factors in cannabis policy reform, the roll out has been highly flawed as many Ohioans still cannot access medical cannabis over a year after the state deadline for implementation.
GrassRoots Ohioans (GRO) continues forward with the campaign to put an adult use amendment onto the ballot. Rather than just representing one of the many factors and constituencies affected by cannabis policy, GRO’s effort is very different in that it’s a “back to basics” approach to enumerating basic, individual rights. This includes patients and patient access. This amendment will allow patients to cultivate their own medicine. It will allow them to use it in any manner they choose, including smoking. It will allow them to create businesses if they have residency. This will all go into affect 30 days following the passage of the amendment.
Similar to how the simple enumeration of the right to keep and bear arms is expressed in the 2nd Amendment, the goal is to establish a constitutional amendment under which individual Ohioans may cultivate, possess, and use cannabis on their own, with the inclusion of the right of farmers to fair licensing that provides equal access to ownership and employment. Ohioans want to be self-determining in our own health and happiness. Anything granted by the government as legislation may be taken away by the same government. Individual rights are enumerated by the people, not granted by the government.
GRO also maintains that any right attached to a specific regulatory structure as codified into the constitution isn’t really a broad right. It’s a contingent right, which requires voters to engrave a specific regulatory policy into stone in order to obtain that right. The needs may change in the future, which could put Ohioans at risk if the regulation is engraved into the constitution as an amendment not easily changed.
As we’ve all seen in previous states that have adopted some kind of cannabis policy reform, the fight over various aspects of that state’s regulatory structure has continued long after the voters approved cannabis. For example, California continues to debate the complexities of cannabis policy nearly two decades after passage. Regulation will continue to be a battleground for years to come in Ohio as well. Cannabis is an extremely complex issue that will require lots of continued debate and modification to hundreds of pages of existing laws.
This is why regulation cannot be and should not be coded into the constitution. Science, economics and prevailing political sentiments change, and regulation should be accessible to change with the times and opinions – not engraved forever. That’s a status reserved for individual rights.
Our purpose is to ensure the individual has the right to cultivate, possess, and use cannabis at the plant genus level. That basic right will become more important into the future as judges will refer back to the Ohio Constitution to rule on the many cases that will still come in the wake of HB 523 passing. Our goal is to ensure that we have that basic individual right there to be the guidepost for those case decisions.
Please read the cannabis amendment and help us establish the individual right to cannabis by collecting signatures and mailing them in.