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An Open Letter To Ohioans From ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James

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Responsible Ohio LogoOn November 3, after a fourteen-month conversation with voters, we heard their clear, collective voice. Though Ohioans know the status quo doesn’t work and is unacceptable, voters demanded a free market pathway that would take Ohio from prohibition to legalization.

We trusted the voters throughout the process and we maintain our trust in the voters today. They have made clear that we made two big mistakes – by self-selecting limited grow site opportunities and making Buddie the face of the campaign.

Rather than finger point and complain, we accept responsibility for our mistakes and have committed ourselves to building greater awareness and consensus. That’s because while we quite publicly stumbled and fell, in picking ourselves up, we remained fully aware that Ohio continues a failed marijuana prohibition that a majority of Ohioans wish to end.

Indeed, nine out of ten Ohioans support the legalization of medical marijuana and nearly six of ten of Ohioans support the legalization of adult, personal use of marijuana.

Because of the statewide conversation we helped advance with other advocates, Ohio’s legislative leaders are now publicly stating their willingness to address medical marijuana, something that has not happened in the last 19 years.
While we are encouraged, we must continue to work for the patients who don’t have time to wait for promises of action. That includes children with epilepsy, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, seniors with arthritis and a countless number of families and friends who suffer the ravages of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other chronic and terminal illnesses.

Then there is the realization that Ohio wastes more than $100 million each year enforcing marijuana laws that don’t work. These are resources our law enforcement should be using to fight real criminals and to take back our streets from the heroin epidemic.

In addition, Ohioans now more clearly understand that marijuana legalization will create a multi-billion dollar industry. This taxed, regulated industry will provide a tremendous infusion of much-needed tax revenue to our local communities and will generate tens of thousands of jobs throughout Ohio.

Yes, like the first campaigns for legalization in California, Colorado and Oregon, we fell short of securing majority voter support. But like all those states, we are rebounding, and we have the chance to be the first state in the Midwest to legalize. In doing so, we must develop a ballot issue that complies with newly passed Issue 2.

We’ve heard from thousands of Ohioans since the election. And we’re closer to knowing what needs to be done and how to get there – together.

Our next plan will include a free market for people to own and operate their own grow, manufacturing and retail facilities. The plan will ensure that the industry is treated like other businesses in regards to taxation. We will have a new approach to home grow without permitting and inclusion of growing hemp to provide opportunities for Ohio’s farmers.

We also have to continue pursuing the Fresh Start Act because Ohioans with the unfair, minor infractions associated with marijuana don’t deserve to be shackled to their past.

But we need to hear more. We’ll continue listening and want your input on our next plan. We want to bring people together from all regions, backgrounds, parties and affiliations to have a respectful and thoughtful conversation. This includes speaking with pro-marijuana advocates, as well as listening to and working with the business, civic, faith, health and mental health and addiction service communities to better understand and address their concerns.

In nearly one-half century, I have experienced great success and failure. In life and business, like so many others, I have learned more from failure than success. From the 2015 campaign, having spent more time and resources on legalization than several states combined, I assure you that the campaign and I have learned more about Ohio voter sentiments on marijuana reform – what voters want and do not want – than any other group in the world.

Like many other states, this first legalization campaign to reach the Ohio statewide ballot, laid the foundation for a future winning effort. In 2016, after we have built consensus, we will run a campaign to give Ohioans the choice of a truly open and free market that will provide the compassionate care for the chronically ill and a regulated, adult personal consumer marijuana market.

Marijuana legalization is coming back to the ballot in 2016. We’ll be back with a strong free market plan, and it’s only with your help and input that we can make it the best plan for all of Ohio.

Source: Ian James’ Facebook page

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