ResponsibleOhio (I would have a different name for them) has commercials running constantly on TV paid for by the 10 entities that have the predetermined monopoly for legalized marijuana sales. I strongly disagree with what they portray as a positive in their commercials. They state that local governments will be the beneficiary of tax revenue generated by marijuana sales. The Sidney Daily News article dated Aug. 19, 2015, titled the “Green Rush Bus Tour” places the tax revenue from marijuana sales for Shelby County, townships and municipalities at $2,038,311 (Editor’s note: proposed tax revenue information provided by ResponsibleOhio). That seems like a lot of money, but local governments have heard those promises before with casino tax revenue.
The casino taxes barely hit 55 percent of the promised projections in the first year and have started to decline. On top of that, the state of Ohio used that funding as a reason to reduce local government funding. The same ploy happened with the Ohio lottery proceeds and school funding.
In Colorado, residents have only seen 42 percent of the projected tax revenue from marijuana sales. Using 55 percent of $2,038,311 equates to $1,121,071 divided by the population of Shelby County that equals $22.68 per person. That amount of money will not cover the cost of increased safety issues that have been experienced in Colorado after marijuana legalization. For example, in 2014, 40 percent of all DUIs in Colorado was due to marijuana only and Colorado driving fatalities, with drivers testing positive for marijuana, increased by 100 percent.
And the final blow is the statistic from Colorado, which states the number of children age 12 and under seen in emergency rooms for marijuana ingestion has tripled since legalization. That statistic really hits home as a grandparent of 11! Edibles, that contain marijuana or THC the active ingredient, are designed to look just like the normal candy or food item. Examples such as PoTtarts/PopTarts; Nugtella/Nutella; Twixed/Twix and Munchy Way/Milky Way, are packaged the same. Same wrappers, same boxes, just labeled slightly different. THC-infused Gummy Bears are made by the Feel Better Sweet Stone Candy Co. But to youngsters, candy or treats are the same to them despite the wording and supposed child-proof packaging. In 2014, the percentage of Colorado eighth-graders who used marijuana was 350 percent higher than the national average. Is this really what we want?
I listed a few items that are for sure a vote no on Issue 3, there are many more I would be glad to discuss with any citizen of Shelby County. I urge the Shelby County voters not to fall for the promise of extra tax revenue, which will not cover the increase of safety issues, and protect the most precious of our next generation. Vote no on Issue 3.
The writer is a Shelby County Commissioner.