Is Ohio The Lynch Pin For U.S. Marijuana Legalization?

In a clever strategic move, Responsible Ohio chose an off-year election for placing marijuana legislation on the ballot in an effort to avoid partisanship at the polls. In another calculated move, the organization, with close ties to Democratic operatives and leadership, celebrities, sports figures and influential business owners, chose Ohio because, as a purple state, it is considered representative of Midwestern values.

Several polls and agencies are predicting the legalization will pass, but some, like New Frontier, predict a bumpy ride to the actual production and legal consumption by Ohioans.

…even if Ohio voters choose to legalize cannabis, the state would still face significant hurdles establishing a regulated market. All other states that have legalized adult use to date had previously passed marijuana laws at least 10 years prior to legalization. Ohio’s lack of experience will create a steep learning curve for the state, the agency stated.
Another possible reason for selecting Ohio as the battleground is the state’s aging population. According to MoneyTalks News, in recent years the use of marijuana has doubled in the United States and the group with the most significant increase in use is people 45 years and older.

This works well for proponents since the median age in Ohio is 39 and the state’s 65 year and older population is trending upward. In 2012, the Toledo Blade reported Ohio’s 65 and older segment at more than 11 million —  or 14 percent of the state’s population — while a 2014 Census projection puts it at 16 percent. The 2010 Census reports that Ohio’s 45-64 age group represents 28 percent of the state’s population.

In addition to the increase in usage, though, is the increase in dependency on marijuana. MoneyTalk News further reports,

Among all adults who use marijuana, the prevalence of what psychiatrists call a marijuana-use disorder (loosely described as “abuse” or “dependence” in the study) also increased…Researchers note that the increased prevalence of such disorders can be explained by the increased number of marijuana users in the United States.

Responsible Ohio projects the value of the marijuana industry around $2 billion which New Frontier asserts overstates the market by about one-half billion dollars.

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