REBUTTAL TO OHIO SENATE RESOLUTION 216: Faulty facts, illogical logic, ridiculous reasoning

Reefer Madness is alive and well. Remember the drug war when truth didn’t matter? Apparently, those who represent us at the statehouse vehemently oppose cannabis being on the ballot. So, to sway public opinion, they copped their legislative authority to pass a ridiculous resolution filled with faulty facts.

Yep, on October 10th, with nary an announcement nor a hearing, Ohio Senate Republicans – all of 23 them – introduced an passed that very same day, along strict party lines Ohio Senate Resolution 216 (S.R. No. 216), whose Long Title is: “To express the Ohio Senate's opposition to Issue 2 on the November 7, 2023, statewide ballot, which would legalize the use and retail sale of recreational marijuana; to identify the problems, risks, dangers, burdens, and costs it would bring to Ohioans, employers, and communities; and to encourage Ohioans to vote against the measure.” Gee thanks.

Except that their resolution is riddled with faulty facts, illogical logic, and ridiculous reasoning. An English teacher would grade them with little more than a “C.” Their vaunted document should sway exactly no one. It reads like “Just Say No” from thirty years ago.

This Mary Jane’s Guide will take a critical look at S.R. 216 through the lens of various studies and sources linked below each “Whereas” point. To improve flow, these points are bolded, numbered 1-20, and reflect their original unedited verbiage. Within each Point, helpful talking points, well sourced facts, and an improved understanding of cannabis policy can be found.


Seven Mary Jane’s Guide articles have tracked ballot issues over the past five years (see Important Links below). So, it should be self-evident that – in just two weeks – adult use marijuana will be on fall 2023 ballot as Issue 2, a citizen-initiated statute. Beginning in 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), a statewide ballot issue PAC, collected almost a half million total signatures in three phases for its Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA) initiative. If passed by a 50%+1 margin, the measure would enact:

  • Possession limits. Two and a half ounces of plant material and/or fifteen grams of extract.
  • Permissible forms. Plant material and seeds, live plants, clones, extracts, drops, lozenges, oils, tinctures, edibles, patches, smoking or combustible product, vaporization of product, beverages, pills, capsules, suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral and topical sprays, salves, lotions or similar cosmetic products, and inhalers. Smoking is permitted.
  • Home Grow. An individual may cultivate and transfer six plants at their private residence or twelve plants with 2 or more residents. Landlords can prohibit home cultivation.
  • Cultivation. The medical program remains intact. Allows medical marijuana cultivators with certificates of P10#yIS1operation to expand their current facilities. Creates new much smaller Level III adult use cultivator.
  • Dispensaries. Level 1 and Level II cultivators can have dispensary licenses at the location of their cultivation facilities.
  • Social Equity. Establishes a broad-based social equity program including an advisory group, record expungement, and funding for criminal justice reform. Allocates equity licenses to forty level III adult use cultivators and to fifty adult use dispensaries.
  • Taxation. 10% “adult use tax” paid by purchasers at adult use dispensaries. Tax revenues go into four funds: social equity and jobs; local municipalities and townships; mental health services; and the division of cannabis control run the program.
  • Protections. 1) no disciplinary action can be taken against professional or occupational licenses, including concealed handgun licenses; 2) no field sobriety tests or suspension of driver’s license solely for adult cannabis use; 3) cannabis cannot be used in determining child abuse or custody; 4) cannabis use cannot disqualify medical care or transplants; 5) cannabis cannot be the sole reason for rejection as a tenant.  
  • Employment. Unfortunately, employers will still be able to discipline employees for their cannabis use and enforce drug testing, drug free workplace, and zero-tolerance policies. Employees cannot sue.

The RMLA initiative has encountered many opponents, among them, Republicans in the Ohio Senate. Because it is a law initiated by citizens, the measure can be acted upon by the General Assembly like any other piece of legislation. This means that Ohio’s trifecta controlled General Assembly can modify, reword, or completely tank the RMLA.

Mary Jane contends that the legislative trifecta will utilize Senate Resolution 216 as their premise to dismember adult use marijuana in Ohio. We the People can’t let that happen. Thus, the mission of this point-by-point analysis is to blunt those plans. As they say, the truth shall set you free!

ANALYSIS OF S.R. 216 – See its full text here.

That this resolution was assembled quickly shows. It was introduced and passed the same day, with no hearings or testimony. No public input. The speed and inattention to detail begat false information and factual errors, including:

  • Redundancy. Both Point 7 and Point 9 addressed lower IQ. For both, PolitiFact ruled IQ drops due to cannabis use “Mostly False.” Similarly redundant workplace issues are covered in Points 14-18.
  • Old sources. The scary percentages in Point 16 concerning impaired employees came from a study published in 1990. While the statistics are alarming, the study’s conclusion minimized the risk that numbers seemed to impart – thirty years ago.
  • No attribution. Not. One. Point. in S.R. 216 referenced credits, citations, or sources, even for specific statistics.       
  • Not an original work. Despite the dearth of attributions, Internet searches find Points in S.R. 216 repeated far outside of Ohio. Point 3 is repeated verbatim in an op-ed by Pennsylvania Senator Judy Ward, in an editorial by Dr. Mark Hurst (in the Columbus Dispatch), and on a South Dakota website.                   Coordinated effort. It appears that many of S.R. 216’s Points come from the prohibitionist group SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and shared nationwide. This includes the mysterious Point 5: “four out of ten the regular marijuana users go on to experiment with other drugs.” This SAM talking point is linked to a 2015 study that still fails to reveal a source. Without attribution, the question becomes, are the Points in S.R. 216 made up by SAM?
  • False Facts. Many of the Points in S.R. 216 are false or lack supporting evidence. Point 4 tries to link marijuana with opioid deaths; not one death ever has been attributed to cannabis. Point 5 attempts to establish marijuana as a ‘gateway,’ even though NIDA stated most people don’t go on to use ‘harder’ substances. Point 7 links marijuana to reduced intelligence; PolitiFact called that Mostly False. In Point 8, the alarming increase in emergency visits stabilized in 2019 and afterward during the pandemic. The increased risk of psychosis, depression, and suicide described in Point 10 could result from many factors; cannabis could instead lower suicide rates. Tying marijuana fatal traffic crashes as in Point 11 becomes problematic because THC can remain in a person’s system for 30 days. Point 12 wants to correlate legal recreational marijuana to crime, when the opposite was true: crimes dropped following legalization. Point 14 harped on risk in the workplace. An occupational medicine journal found no association between cannabis use and workplace injury. The data in Point 16 are over 30 years old. Point 17 wants to infer that, post legalization, workplace accidents will drive up Workers Compensation rates; instead, they have been on the decline. Point 18 attempts to correlate taxation in the RMLA with casino gambling. Per the Tax Foundation, the RMLA’s 10% tax lies in the median among other adult use states. Point 19 complains about distribution of funding that the RMLA has already covered. Point 20 criticizes the RMLA’s social equity programs, even though S.R. 216 begins by panning the “commercial marijuana industry.”

In summary, Senate Resolution 216 is a flawed, cynical, inaccurate, bigoted, and wholly unnecessary piece of legislation that was in part crafted by a national prohibitionist group to slam a two-year effort by Ohio citizens to enact adult use cannabis. It is sad that Ohio’s General Assembly is so heavily dominated by one particular party that it can pass such a resolution without hearings or testimony that catch and correct its problems and misstatements. As it stands, the best recommendation would be to ignore this jaded attempt to influence the public and Vote Yes on Issue 2 on November 7th. And, if the RMLA passes, watch out for lawmakers using S.R. 216 to justify slicing and dicing the new law.                                                                                                                    


(135th General Assembly)

(Senate Resolution Number 216)


1. WHEREAS, The commercial marijuana industry has paid to write a statute which would legalize the use and retail sale of marijuana for recreational purposes and then has paid to collect the signatures to get the proposed law on the November 7, 2023, statewide ballot; and

A November 2022 poll by the distinguished Pew Research Center found that “the public continues to broadly favor legalization of [marijuana] for medical and recreational purposes. An overwhelming share of U.S. adults (88%) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use by adults (59%).” Several bills such as H.B. 210, H.B. 382, H.B. 498, and H.B. 628 were introduced in the General Assembly (GA) during 2022. Only two received proponent testimony; no other consideration. In fact, the RMLA (Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol) citizen-initiated statute contained a provision that allowed the legislature to enact it or the GA’s own law, but nothing happened during that four-month window. Thus, the GA showed its unwillingness to tackle an issue that an overwhelming majority of the electorate wants.

In lieu of the legislative route, the ballot issue route was taken, and someone had to fund it. During 2013-2015, the Ohio Rights Group fielded the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment (OCRA), a proposed constitutional amendment, and proved that voluntary signature collection is untenable. The group gathered 150,000 signatures using volunteers, but fell well short of the 300,000+ required. Paid signature gathering is thus essential to a ballot campaign.

Funding must therefore come from those in a position to provide it, hence the existing cannabis industry. It should be considered business as usual for an industry operator to contribute to that industry’s expansion. Using the “Like Alcohol” model, no one would be surprised if Anheuser Busch or Coors did the same.

2. WHEREAS, The commercial marijuana industry had approximately $30 billion in revenue nationwide in 2022, and studies project that the industry could eventually earn as much as $4 billion in Ohio if recreational marijuana is legalized; and

The revenue size reflects considerable consumer interest in fully legal cannabis. These dollars should be viewed as a good thing. That is $30 billion nationwide and eventually $4 billion in Ohio, which will be directed toward the legal market where sales can be regulated and taxed to the benefit of the state and local communities. No doubt, these are sums that, without legalization, would be accrued to the illegal market and its nefarious players such as cartels, smugglers, and thugs.

3. WHEREAS, The National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and World Health Organization have all determined that marijuana is an addictive drug and can produce dependency and withdrawal; and

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published a Cannabis (Marijuana) Research Report in July of 2020 that refuted many of the incorrect points made in Senate Joint Resolution 216. These include the Gateway Hypothesis/Theory, IQ, and driving. This report will be referenced in answers to the various statements made in this resolution.
  • The Mayo Clinic, in describing uses on its website, the starting sentence under “Safety and side effects” reads, “Medical marijuana use is generally considered safe.” The word “addiction is not mentioned.”
  • The Cleveland Clinic webpage on “Marijuana” reads like Reefer Madness. It cites harms that have proven false.
  • In 2019, the World Health Organization recommended the reclassification of cannabis under the global system from the most restrictive Schedule IV to less restrictive Schedule I. (The global classification system is different than the U.S. system.) Per the Marijuana Moment, “… these recommendations, if adopted, would represent a formal recognition that the world's governing bodies have effectively been wrong about marijuana's harms and therapeutic benefits for decades.”
  • The Journal of Addiction Science reports, “Marijuana produces dependence less readily than most other illicit drugs. Some 9 percent of those who try marijuana develop dependence compared to, for example, 15 percent of people who try cocaine and 24 percent of those who try heroin.”
  • From the Journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “In a large, nationally representative sample of US adults, the cumulative probability of transition to dependence was highest for nicotine users, followed by cocaine users, alcohol users and, lastly, cannabis users.”
  • The European Addiction Research journal concluded, “Our examination of the existing literature and of cannabis users from a general population study and from a mixed-methods study of adult, stable, socially integrated users suggests that many cannabis users who may otherwise meet the criteria for being at moderate risk for problematic use are nonetheless able to successfully integrate cannabis use into everyday life with few associated problems. Indeed, our findings advocate that regular use of small amounts of cannabis does not appear to increase an individual’s likelihood of experiencing problems, and it does not threaten one’s ability to function well and perform expected roles.

4. WHEREAS, Since 2007, drug overdoses have been the leading cause of injury death in Ohio, and 33,000 Ohioans have died of drug overdoses between 2011 and 2020; and

Lethal drug overdoses are indeed a tragedy, as the “2020 Ohio Drug Overdose Data” findings show. And they increased dramatically from 2011 to 2020. The culprits include fentanyl; natural and semi-synthetic opioids; heroin; cocaine; psychostimulants; and benzodiazepines. Notice that there is not one mentionnot one deathrelated to marijuana, cannabis, or cannabinoids.  

5. WHEREAS, Marijuana is a "gateway" drug, and research shows that four out of ten regular marijuana users go on to experiment with other drugs; and

It is unclear what specific research is being referenced by “four out of ten the regular marijuana users go on to experiment with other drugs.” The “gateway theory/hypothesis” has been debated for decades. It is problematic and unconfirmed. While some individuals may use drugs other than marijuana, most do not or do so without life altering problems.

  • A January 2023 study published in Psychological Medicine reported, “Recreational cannabis legalization causes increases in mean cannabis frequency and residents of recreational states have fewer recent symptoms of AUD [alcohol use disorder]. Broadly speaking, our co-twin control and differential vulnerability results suggest that the impacts of recreational cannabis legalization on psychiatric and psychosocial outcomes are otherwise minimal. We assessed a broad range of outcomes, including other substance use, substance dependence, disordered personality, externalizing and legal issues, relationship agreement, workplace behavior, civic engagement, and cognition and found no detrimental nor protective effects for the majority of these domains, nor did we identify any increased vulnerability conferred by established risk factors.”   
  • The aforementioned NIDA report agreed, “The majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, "harder" substances. Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs.

6. WHEREAS, Regular marijuana use more than doubles the risk of developing opioid-use disorder or initiating nonmedical prescription opioid use; and

Quite the contrary suggests current research.

  • In May 2023, the North American Spine Society Journal stated, “Patients who had a previous diagnosis of cannabis use, dependence or abuse filled fewer opioid prescriptions postoperatively (at 3 days postoperatively) and required lower doses (reduced average daily MME, at 60 days postoperatively) when compared with the control group.
  • Another study in December 2033 in JAMA Oncology reported, “This cross-sectional study of 38 189 patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer, 12 816 with colorectal cancer, and 7190 with lung cancer found that medical marijuana legalization implemented between 2012 and 2017 was associated with a 5.5% to 19.2% relative reduction in the rate of opioid dispensing.”
  • From a Journal Substance Use and Misuse study in September 2022, “Opioid use rates have dropped as North American patients gain access to medical cannabis.” And “The findings suggest that some medical cannabis patients decreased opioid use without harming quality of life or health functioning, soon after the legalization of medical cannabis.”

From this research and these scientific studies, it can be surmised that cannabis lessens the risk of opioid use.

7. WHEREAS, Regular marijuana use can irreversibly reduce intelligence, memory, and learning ability; and

First a fact check. Does marijuana reduce IQ by 8 points? About a decade ago, a large study out of New Zealand grabbed headlines: “persistent marijuana use disorder with frequent use starting in adolescence was associated with a loss of an average of 6 or up to 8 IQ points measured in mid-adulthood.” The damage was unrecoverable. Or was it?

  • PolitiFact reviewed this topic after a U.S. Rep from North Carolina tweeted about it. Their rating? Mostly false. Why? First, the supposed decline only took place among adolescent marijuana smokers, not those who heavily smoked as adults. Secondly, the original researchers placed a caveat on their findings: “more research is needed to establish a link between marijuana use and a decline in IQ points.”
  • The aforementioned NIDA report confirmed, “the ability to draw definitive conclusions about marijuana’s long-term impact on the human brain from past studies is often limited by the fact that study participants use multiple substances, and there is often limited data about the participants’ health or mental functioning prior to the study.”
  • A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry reported, “cognitive changes caused by heavy marijuana use has found no lasting effects 28 days after quitting. Following a month of abstinence, men and women who smoked pot at least 5,000 times in their lives performed just as well on psychological tests as people who used pot sparingly or not at all.”
  • As reported in Scientific American, a 2020 study of twins found that “marijuana use and IQ were completely uncorrelated” and that “IQ measures fell equally in both the users and abstainers. Subsequent twin studies, corroborated these findings of no relationship between marijuana use and a falling IQ.”

8. WHEREAS, The increased availability of marijuana from legalization correlates with an alarming increase in emergency room visits for children due to marijuana ingestion, particularly by the youngest children; and

From the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (2021):

  • “There was a significant rate increase of marijuana-related emergency department visits during the era of medical commercialization. The increase in visits continued after 2014 but that increase was reversed in 2019.”
  • “Rates of hospitalization with marijuana-related billing codes rose prior to legalization and experienced a 100% increase during the era of medical marijuana legalization (2010-2013). Recent years have not seen a significant change in hospitalization rates.”
  • “The number of human exposures reported to poison control mentioning marijuana increased immediately after the legalization of recreational marijuana (Figure 43), with 106 calls in 2012 and 223 in 2014. These increases stabilized during 2014-2017.”
  • “The overall treatment admission rate for those reporting marijuana as the primary substance used has decreased, from 222 in 2012 to 182 in 2019. The treatment admission rate decreased 41% for those under 18, from 458 in 2012 to 270 admissions per 100,000 population in that age group in 2019.”

From the Centers for Disease Control: The Covid-19 pandemic (2019 through 2021) exacerbated childhood emergency room visits.

  • Most cannabis-involved ED visits were among adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years.
  • “Among persons aged ≤10 years, cannabis-involved ED visit rates during the pandemic far exceeded those preceding the pandemic.”
  • “Cannabis-involved ED visits among young persons were higher during the COVID-19 pandemic than during 2019.
  • These increases might stem from multiple factors, such as increased use as a coping mechanism for pandemic-related stressors, use of highly concentrated THC products, increased availability of cannabis in states with legal marketplaces, and increased unintentional ingestions associated with packaging that is appealing or confusing to youths. To protect against unintentional ingestions of cannabis, it is important for adults who use cannabis to safely and securely store cannabis products in places inaccessible to children.

9. WHEREAS, The human brain continues to develop until approximately the age of 25, and regular marijuana use during adolescence and up to this age can change the way the brain functions in adulthood, risking impacts to academic performance, IQ, and behavior; and

This statement is largely redundant to Point 7 about learning and memory. To reiterate, PolitiFact rated declines in IQ, academic performance, and behavior as Mostly False.

10. WHEREAS, Marijuana use in adolescence is associated with an increased risk of psychosis, a severe mental disorder characterized by distorted thinking and a loss of touch with reality, as well as depression and suicide; and

Not necessarily. Again, some researchers might suggest a correlation of cannabis use with psychosis, depression, and suicide. But, as we know, correlation is not causation.

  • The aforementioned NIDA report states, “Many factors—such as the amount of drug consumed, the frequency of use, the potency (THC content) of and type of cannabis product, and a person’s age at first use—have been shown to influence the relationship between cannabis use and mental health.122, 123 Similarly, many factors that influence mental health—such as genes, trauma, and stress—also influence how likely someone is to use drugs, including cannabis.”
  • A 2022 report from the American Journal of Psychiatry stated, “Emerging evidence from genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of schizophrenia and lifetime cannabis use have questioned a causal inference for the observed relationship between cannabis and psychosis. These studies, recently summarized by Gillespie and Kendler (10), while acknowledging evidence for a bidirectional causal relationship between cannabis exposure and schizophrenia, suggest a greater role for “reverse-causal mechanisms” (where schizophrenia-related mechanisms lead to cannabis use) and “genetic confounding” (common underlying genetic risk for both schizophrenia and cannabis use).
  • Regarding suicide, the CATO Institute reported, “It is difficult to see any association between marijuana legalization and changes in suicide trends. Previous research has suggested a link between medical marijuana use and lower suicide rates; that effect also is not obvious here, perhaps because many states had already legalized medical marijuana before fully legalizing it. The link between medical marijuana and lower suicide rates may stem partly from the fact that medical marijuana can substitute for other, more dangerous painkillers and opiates.

11. WHEREAS, States that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen an increase in fatal traffic crashes and injury-causing traffic crashes, with marijuana-impaired driving fatalities doubling in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana; and

It is difficult to correlate “marijuana impaired driving” with fatal, injury-causing traffic crashes for one simple reason: THC can remain in a person’s system for 30 days or more, long after impairment has ceased.

  • The aforementioned NIDA report stated, “Determining the precise role of cannabis use in motor vehicle crashes and impaired driving can be challenging for several reasons. Importantly, the drug may be detected in body fluids for days or even weeks after experiencing intoxication, and cannabis may affect driving ability differently among people who use it occasionally compared with those who use it regularly.” Also, “a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no significant increased crash risk attributable to cannabis use.
  • A report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, pointed out that, “Analyses of data suggest that legalization of recreational cannabis in United States jurisdictions may be associated with a small but significant increase in fatal motor vehicle collisions and fatalities, which, if extrapolated to the Canadian context, could result in as many as 308 additional driving fatalities annually.” In 2016, there were 34,436 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States.
  • The conclusion of a 2017 study in the American Journal of Public Health read, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

12. WHEREAS, States that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen increases in their crimes rates, with the crime rate in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana,

increasing 11 times faster than the rest of the nation since legalization, including an 18.6% increase in violent crimes; and

  • Evidence Based Professionals (EBP) reported, “Although property crimes experienced the biggest drop in cases per 100,000 residents in Colorado, other crimes dropped pre and post legalization as well. In counties located in neighboring states that directly bordered Colorado, larceny reports dropped by an average of 519 cases per 100,000. In non-bordering counties, larceny reports dropped by 258 cases per 100,000. Additionally simple assault also experienced a decrease in both bordering and non-bordering counties. Prior to legalization, simple assault in bordering counties was reported 1,009 times per 100,000 and dropped to 827 cases, experiencing a drop of 182 cases per 100,000 residents. In non-bordering counties, a decrease in simple assault reports occurred by 86 cases per 100,000 residents. Finally, motor vehicle theft decreased by an average of 25 cases in bordering counties and 6 cases in non-bordering counties, per 100,000 residents. In the state of Washington, patterns of official crime reporting were similar, with a drop in most crimes following legalization.”  
  • From the New York Times: “Legalization coincided with a 20 percent rise in violent crime rates in Colorado from 2012 to 2017, according to a state report, giving ammunition to critics. But it is almost impossible to attribute broad changes in crime rates to just one cause. Over the same period, the number of marijuana-related arrests fell by half. The Denver Police say that marijuana offenses — which make up less than 1 percent of overall crimes — fell by about 25 percent since recreational sales began in 2014.
  • A 2014 PLOS ONE study on medical marijuana laws and crime determined that “results did not indicate a crime exacerbating effect of MML [medical marijuana law] on any of the Part I offenses. Alternatively, state MML may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates.” Further, “These findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”
  • Upon examining crime rates before and after legalization, the CATO Institute concluded, “Overall, violent crime has neither soared nor plummeted in the wake of marijuana legalization.”

13. WHEREAS, States that have legalized recreational marijuana have still seen significant sales of unregulated, black market marijuana, with Oregon seeing 70% of all marijuana sales being on the black market and up to five times the amount of marijuana purchased in the state being taken out of the state for illegal sales elsewhere; and

The complete ban on cannabis at the federal level coupled with a widely distributed patchwork of state laws allow the illicit market to operate even under full legalization in some states.

  • Population density plays a role: under the cover of rural woods and hills, the unregulated market can thrive; densely populated cities remove that veil of secrecy.
  • States like Oregon crafted their cannabis laws with an eye toward lowering the barriers to market entry for legacy growers. But in so doing, cultivators in the state produced an oversupply that “re-energized” the black market.
  • Because cannabis purchases, even at the corporate level, are cash only transactions – most banks will not do business with cannabis companies – illicit cultivators can seamlessly merge their product into the legal market without an audit trail. Sales transacted with credit cards and other banking products kneecap illicit sellers.
  • Illegal moonshine largely disappeared once alcohol was legalized and could be widely purchased almost anywhere.

14. WHEREAS, Legalizing recreational marijuana creates great risks at the workplace to employers, other workers, customers, and others; and

  • A 2022 study in the journal of Occupational Medicine revealed, “We found no association between past-year cannabis use and work-related injury (odds ratio for work injury among users 0.81, 95% confidence interval 0.66–0.99). The association was unchanged in the subgroup analysis limited to high injury risk occupational groups.”
  • A 2021 report from the National Safety Council found that nearly 7 out of 10 employees believe that using recreational cannabis during their own time is their decision and medical cannabis is safe if taken as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Approximately 6 of 10 employees perceive recreational cannabis use during personal time as similar to alcohol. Over half of respondents feel recreational cannabis use is safe when use is restricted to personal time.
  • The National Safety Council reported these reasons why their organization’s policies on cannabis are unfair. In their own words: 1.) “You can test positive for THC in your system days and weeks after doing it;” 2.) “Marijuana is a safe drug. Alcohol is legal and kills people.” 3.) “Employees that use recreational or medical cannabis even outside of work are susceptible to being fired. This is unjust, as a company has no control what an employee chooses to do outside of work.”
  • The National Safety Council determined that “employers are significantly more likely to agree that cannabis use, in any form, makes individuals more creative at work.

15. WHEREAS, Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen significant increases in workers who show up to work impaired, including an increase of 48% in Nevada; and

  • “… some states have afforded protection to off-duty certain cannabis users, prohibiting personnel actions based on off-duty recreational use, including Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York. California will add such protections effective January 1, 2024. States such as Delaware and Rhode Island have explicitly stated that a positive drug test is not enough to determine that an employee is impaired while on duty.” 
  • From a discussion of impairment on the Center for Disease Control’s science blog: “It is theorized that, compared to traditional workplace drug testing, impairment testing may provide more immediate, actionable, accurate, and comprehensive information, allowing employers to be more proactive in minimizing risks in the workplace while maintaining more privacy and fairness for workers.”

16. WHEREAS, Marijuana-impaired employees cause 55% more industrial accidents and 85% more on-the-job injuries, and employees who regularly use marijuana experience 75% more absenteeism; and

  • It appears that the statistics quoted in Point 16 can be found in the aforementioned NIDA report (p. 14). Referencing that citation (#60), finds that the numbers in this Point come from a 1990 JAMA article, “The efficacy of preemployment drug screening for marijuana and cocaine in predicting employment outcome.” Its abstract concluded, “The level of risk, however, is much less than previously estimated.” The relevance of 1990 data to an initiative in 2023 is questionable.
  • From the Cleveland Bar Association in May 2023: “Generally there is no restriction on pre-employment marijuana testing in Ohio. However, Employers could find a greater challenge in hiring employees should they elect to continue that practice. As Ohio Employers are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic depleted the hiring pool. Eliminating potential employees who use marijuana recreationally could further limit hiring potential. While the focus should be to hire efficient, dependable, and most importantly safe employees, Employers could consider greater leniency in pre-employment testing requirements.”

17. WHEREAS, Increased workplace accidents will inevitably create new cost pressures for Ohio's stable workers compensation system, leading one member of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Board of Directors to recently say that he expects legalization of recreational marijuana to drive up rates; and             

  • The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) composed a paper in 2021 entitled, “Does Marijuana Legalization Affect Work Capacity? From Workers Compensation Benefits.” “While WC [Workers Compensation] expenditures are high, they have recently been on a decline. Figure 1A depicts trends in WC real expenditures in the U.S. over the period 2010 to 2018. [page 45] Of particular interest to our study, the most recent decline in WC costs began in 2012 (Weiss, Murphy, and Boden 2020), the first year in which a U.S. state adopted an RML [Recreational Marijuana Law].
  • From a discussion of Workers Compensation on the Center for Disease Control’s science blog “Medical marijuana may allow workers to better manage pain and other symptoms associated with workplace injuries and illnesses, reducing worker’s compensation claims (12) and the use of opioids (13-15).”
  • “… workplace policies regarding drug tests for marijuana are changing — particularly regarding off-duty use in states where the drug is legal — and positive drug tests for marijuana may not automatically mean that an employee is ineligible for unemployment benefits.”
  • Unfortunately, under the RMLA (Section 3780.35), employers will still be able to discipline employees for their cannabis use and enforce drug testing, drug free workplace, and zero-tolerance policies. Employees cannot sue.
  • “… marijuana use is currently not covered by the federal ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], a growing number of employees have sued employers on state disability discrimination grounds when the employer refuses to accommodate their lawfully authorized use of marijuana for medical purposes.”

18. WHEREAS, The commercial marijuana industry is seeking exceptionally favorable tax rates for itself, 10%, less than one-third the tax rate for casino gambling; and

The RMLA’s 10% tax rate charged to purchasers probably falls in the median as compared to other states. Per the Tax Foundation, some states tax in dollars, others in percentages. The states with the highest tax percentages are Washington (37%), Virginia (21%), Montana (20%), Oregon (17%), and Arizona (16%). The lowest rates belong to Illinois (7%) and Missouri (6%). Alaska taxes on product type, Connecticut on milligrams, and New Jersey on weight.

Comparing the proposed taxation of cannabis to casino gambling is irrelevant.

19. WHEREAS, The commercial marijuana industry's proposed distribution of tax revenue would provide no funds to public education nor to Ohio's counties, which administer the human services programs that will bear the brunt of increased addiction treatment needs and other challenges resulting from increased drug usage; and

The taxation section from the RMLA creates the Adult Use Tax Fund in the State Treasury, with four sections:

  • The cannabis social equity and jobs fund (36%) – to implement the requirements the Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Program.
  • The host community cannabis fund (36%) – to benefit of municipal corporations or townships that have adult use dispensaries, and the municipal corporations or townships may use such funds for any approved purpose.
  • The substance abuse and addiction fund (25%) – to support the efforts of the department of mental health and addiction services to alleviate substance and opiate abuse.
  • The division of cannabis control and tax commissioner fund (3%) – to support the operations of the division of cannabis control and to defray the cost of the department of taxation for administering the tax levied.

Point 19 expresses concerns over funding for public education, Ohio's counties, addiction treatment needs, and increased drug usage. Instead of “no funds,” specific programs will be established to address these needs. The host community fund might cover money for public education and Ohio’s counties (municipal corporations or townships reside in counties). Increased addiction treatment needs and services to alleviate opiate abuse would certainly fall under the substance abuse and addiction fund.

20. WHEREAS, The commercial marijuana industry's proposed law would steer more than one-third of tax revenue back to the industry itself in the form of a so-called "social equity" program

Social Equity is an important issue. It is defined asimpartiality, fairness and justice for all people in social policy. Social equity takes into account systemic equalities to ensure everyone in a community has access to the same opportunities and outcomes.”

Sadly, over the expanse of time, people of color and other minorities have experienced endemic and often unsurmountable discrimination that has resulted in poverty, incarceration, sickness, mental illness, and a host of other unique problems. Former President Richard Nixon declared “War on Drugs” in 1971 for the purpose of silencing blacks and hippies (read liberals).  

From the Center for American Progress:

  • Black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana charges than their white peers. In fact, Black Americans make up nearly 30 percent of all drug-related arrests, despite accounting for only 12.5 percent of all substance users.
  • Black Americans are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated for drug-related offenses than their white counterparts, despite equal substance usage rates.
  • In the federal system, the average Black defendant convicted of a drug offense will serve nearly the same amount of time (58.7 months) as a white defendant would for a violent crime (61.7 months).
  • People of color account for 70 percent of all defendants convicted of charges with a mandatory minimum sentence. Prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for a Black defendant than a white defendant charged with the same offense, and Black defendants are less likely to receive relief from mandatory minimums. On average, defendants subject to mandatory minimums spend five times longer in prison than those convicted of other offenses.

Regardless of race, a marijuana arrest can mean the loss of a job, child custody, living quarters, education, professional licenses, and more.

To right these wrongs, the RMLA proposes a “cannabis social equity and jobs fund” for the purpose of  addressing “the state’s compelling interest to redress past and present effects of discrimination and economic disadvantage for individuals in the state.” To be more specific, “The division of cannabis control shall issue up to fifty additional adult use dispensary licenses in conformity with this chapter with preference provided to applicants who have been certified as cannabis social equity and jobs program participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.”


RESOLVED. We the People conclude that the proposed statute authored, in part, by the marijuana industry serves the best interests of the people of Ohio; will improve the health of all Ohioans, including children; will minimize dangers in the workplace and costs to employers; will make Ohio's roads no more dangerous than they are now; will impose minimal costs to Ohio's public social services; and will serve to advance equity, fairness, responsibility, and customer care within the commercial marijuana industry; and be it further

RESOLVED, that We the People urge the people of the State of Ohio to pass Issue 2 to enable the legalization of recreational, adult use marijuana, and in so doing improve our state's quality of life, the health and safety of our citizens, the strength and prosperity of our communities, our strong economic growth, our favorable environment for business success, and opportunity for all citizens and the future for our young people; and be it further

RESOLVED, that We the People instruct the Ohio General Assembly to make no material changes to the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol statute, if passed, and allow it to be implemented as intended by our affirmative votes.



Here is a presentation version of this S.R. 216 Rebuttal.

Here is the full text of the Ohio Senate Resolution 216.

Here is the full text of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA) statute.

Here are bullet points that outline the RMLA’s provisions.

Here is a document that overviews the initiated statute process using the RMLA as an example.

Here is the legislative language of H.B. 168, the Enact Adult Use Act, similar to the RMLA.

Here is Mary Jane’s Guide “Initiate this: Adult Use Comes to Ohio.” December 2022. Deep dives into the RMLA.

Here is Mary Jane’s Guide “Just Say NO! to Issue 1.” May 2023. Covers Issue 1 and the RMLA, offering a historical backdrop.

Here is Mary Jane’s Guide “UPDATES: Issue 1 – RMLA – Courage in Cannabis Launch.” July 2023. Updates on the August special election concerning Issue 1 (upping the passage percentage for constitutional amendments) and the RMLA.

Here is Mary Jane’s Guide “Adult Use Marijuana & Courage in Cannabis Updates.” August 2023.

Here is Mary Jane’s Guide about Angelica Warren with an update on the RMLA. September 2023.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about the RMLA.

Here is an analysis of cannabis opponents in the State of Ohio.


WANT Adult Use MARIJUANA in OHIO? VOTE YES! on Issue 2 - NOVEMBER 7, 2023! Here’s how:

  1. Find out if you are eligible. You must meet certain criteria to vote in Ohio: 18+ years old, Ohio resident for at least 30 days and not incarcerated, among others.
  2. Check your voter registration with the Ohio Secretary of State (SoS). Click here. You can register to vote, update your address, or just make sure your information is correct. The registration deadline was October 10th. Here’s a FAQ on voting from the SoS.
  3. Find out where you vote. Polling places can change from election to election. The Secretary of State provides this information here. See the clickable map or choose the Ohio county in which you reside.
  4. Make your plans before you vote. You can vote in person at your polling place on election day, or in person at an early voting location starting 10/11/2023 (hours vary), or by absentee ballot requested from the Secretary of State. Here are absentee ballot instructions.
  5. Mark your calendar now, make a plan, and Vote YES on Issue 2 for adult use marijuana!!


Mary Jane Borden is a best-selling author, skilled graphic artist, and award-winning cannabis activist from Westerville, Ohio. During her 40-year career in drug policy, she co-founded seven cannabis-oriented groups, co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills, penned over 100 Columbus Free Press articles, and has given hundreds of media interviews. She is one of the Courage in Cannabis authors, with articles in both editions. Her artwork can be viewed at and she can be reached at maryjaneborden@

Mary Jane’s analytical background: Mary Jane earned her MBA in Finance from the University of Dayton. For nine years, she analyzed the global cancer chemotherapy market and managed a large database of cancer patients for a major pharmaceutical company. Ten years after that, she served as Business Manager for DrugSense/MAP that databased over 270,000 drug policy focused articles, from which she drew data for strategic plans, newsletters, and grants. At roughly the same time, she managed the Drug Policy Facts (formerly Drug War Facts) database of over 2,000 drug-policy quotes (facts) from authoritative sources, both in the United States and worldwide. Mary Jane’s work for the Columbus Free Press is uncompensated.