Amy Ronshausen, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs, wrote the following open letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the members of the Ohio State Legislature, in reaction to the recreational marijuana ballot initiative passing in the state.
Dear Ohio Leaders:
On Tuesday, November 7th, Ohio voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in the state. Under the new law, adults will be able to purchase or possess 2.5 ounces of flower or 15 grams of marijuana extracts. Additionally, the new law will allow adults 21 and older to grow marijuana at home with up to six plants per person and 12 plants per household.
Before implementing any new law, it is incumbent that the Ohio governor and legislature consider additional legislation and programs to mitigate the dangers associated with a recreational marijuana program.
My recommendations include:
Regulating THC Levels
It is critical that Ohio lawmakers consider regulating the allowable THC levels, the active ingredient in marijuana, sold in both cultivated and extracted marijuana products. The fact is, today’s marijuana isn’t the same. New methods of processing the drug have yielded highly potent extracts with THC levels of up to 80 percent. That’s a frightening fact when you understand that high THC marijuana induces anxiety, depression, and psychosis and increases suicide attempts in young people.
Protecting Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
A robust and ongoing educational program on the dangers of marijuana to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers must be implemented. It is proven that THC can pass through a mother’s placenta directly to the baby during pregnancy and to an infant through breast milk. Whether through smoking, vaping, or edibles, THC travels rapidly to a fetus’ and baby’s brain and fat cells—potentially harming brain development with long-term effects on cognition and behavior.
Keeping Ohio Roads Safe
It is incumbent to provide Ohio law enforcement with better laws and tools to keep their roads safe from marijuana impaired drivers. There are myriad studies on the dangers of marijuana-impaired driving and the difficulties law enforcement face in keeping the roads safe. I would encourage Ohio to learn from the mistakes from other states who have seen marijuana-impaired injuries and fatalities rise after legalizing the drug. I would point to a recent University of Illinois, Chicago study done in neighboring Illinois that revealed fatal crash drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose from 25 percent in the two years before legalization to 37 percent in 2020, the first year of legal recreational sales in Illinois.
In closing, let me suggest that while Ohio voters have spoken and expressed their preference for legalize recreational marijuana in the state, the implications associated with their decision were not fully considered. As the elected leaders of the State of Ohio, I would strongly encourage you to fully consider all the challenges approval of this ballot initiative presents as well as move slowly and cautiously in implementing a recreational marijuana program.
Executive Director, Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs