YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Voters across Ohio are in the process of deciding if they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
We talked to a man who currently grows marijuana in Youngstown for medical purposes and wants people to vote yes to make it legal. We also talked to Ohio’s lieutenant governor, who is urging a “no” vote.
Tuesday afternoon, Brian Kessler, owner of Youngstown’s Riviera Creek medical marijuana grow facility, walked us under a bridge in one of the city’s manufacturing districts, where a bag of Delta 8, a synthetic form of marijuana, was recently bought.
“Right now, Ohio allows this to be sold at a store — not tested, not regulated. But when you go, other places to buy it are like this, where people sell you things that you have no idea what you’re buying,” said Kessler.
We followed Kessler to the Green Leaf medical marijuana dispensary in Struthers where all the marijuana sold has been tested and deemed safe. Kessler says if Ohio voters pass Issue Two, the marijuana they are using will be safe.
“With the way we do it, with the state-regulated, state testing labs that put very stringent requirements, all of a sudden, what the consumer is buying is safe,” said Kessler.
“Our public spaces are going to smell like pot,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
Husted is opposed to Issue Two.
“I understand it happens in other states, I just don’t think it should happen in Ohio because I think it’s detrimental to our culture… and to the kind of environment we want to have in our state,” said Husted.
Husted also says making recreational marijuana legal will be detrimental to Ohio’s economy.
“It’s going to continue to harm people’s ability to get jobs, to keep jobs,” he said.
“People shouldn’t come to work high, they shouldn’t come under the influence of alcohol,” said Kessler.
“They’re saying it would create $200 million in revenue for the state of Ohio. You know what that translates to? It translates to 300,000 Ohioans getting high every day,” said Husted.
Kessler says there are already that many people — and likely way more — who are using marijuana in Ohio.
“It’s not more people using it, it’s the same 1.5-2 million people that have been using it up to this point. Now, it’s just safe products,” said Kessler.
WKBN’s interview with Kessler was his first in what will be a two-week campaign trip throughout the state of Ohio. Virtually every day, he’ll be speaking with people, urging them to vote “yes” on Issue Two.
Husted, on the other hand, says we’ve been trying to get cigarettes out of the culture, and to now make marijuana fully legal would only deter people from having better health outcomes.