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Medical marijuana plants inside the grow site for Altitude Wellness Center in Garden City, Colorado. Picture By Emily Maxwell | WCPO
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Will legal marijuana "smother" the black market, as ResponsibleOhio claims?

Aug 24, 2015


WCPO -  CINCINNATI - A litter-lined back alley and graffitied-wall set the stage for ResponsilbeOhio’s latest campaign ad.

“Right now, marijuana is sold in every corner of Ohio by criminals to people of all ages,“ begins the video ad that shows two sweatshirt-clad characters exchanging a roll of cash for a plastic baggie. “ResponsibleOhio’s plan would change all that.”
That message – which includes a pledge to “smother” Ohio’s  black market for pot – is among the top campaign claims the pro-pot group is pushing as it works to win over voters this fall.
Today’s criminal enterprises, the group says, would be forced out of business by its plan for a tightly regulated, tax-generating industry. The group’s plan would make medical and recreational marijuana sales legal for Ohioans age 21 and older. Individuals could grow up to four plants for personal use, but most of the marijuana for sale would be grown at 10 sites across Ohio controlled by the campaign’s wealthy backers.
“From seed to sale,” ResponsibleOhio says, the new pot businesses would be tracked by a to-be-created branch of government dubbed the Marijuana Control Commission.
“It will have a chilling effect on these drug dealers,” said Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio. “For the first time in history, Ohio voters finally have the chance to end this failed marijuana prohibition and we can stop surrendering our streets to drug dealers.”
But opponents are less optimistic, and point to states that have already legalized the drug with varying impacts on the supply of illegal weed.
“We know the black market exists, and we still have huge illegal operations across the state,” said Lou Vallerio. a sheriff in Colorado, where recreation sales have been legal since 2014. “It tells me the legal market in Colorado is still not competing, and organized crime is still finding a way to come in and profit.”

“If you choose to consume, please do so responsibly.”

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