LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – The Dearborn County prosecutor spoke out against legalizing marijuana the day after a task force led by the prosecutor of neighboring Hamilton County released a report touting the benefits of legalizing marijuana in Ohio.
Aaron Negangard, the prosecutor in Dearborn and Ohio counties, told WCPO that he believed the decriminalization trend was largely responsible for “the increased drug problems we’re having.”
“I think it’s an awful idea,” Negangard said. “I think it will lead to greater drug abuse. It will lead to greater crime, and we’re already seeing that.”
Negangard’s comments came a day after the Marijuana Policies of Ohio Taskforce, which is chaired by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, released a report that made the headline-grabbing claims that a legalized marijuana industry in Ohio could create almost 35,000 jobs and bring in nearly $7 billion to the state’s economy.
Deters wrote in a letter with his report that “as a county prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how ineffective, inefficient and sometimes harmful our current marijuana laws are.”
While the two counties have worked together to fight drug crime, Negangard disagreed. He said he believed that the drug policies of the 1980s had been more effective.
“The anti-drug policies were really ramped up during the Reagan years and, going forward, violent crime went down and drug use went down,” he said.
Deters’ report also found that “legalization has not led to drastic increases in crime, adult or teen use, workplace injuries, or negatively impacted other aspects of public safety” in other states that have legalized marijuana.
The proposed amendment would only make recreational marijuana legal for people age 21 and older.
However, a different report prepared by the four-state Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which Negangard cited, found that the percentage of school suspensions for drug violations in Colorado had increased following the commercialization of marijuana and states with legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana typically had larger percentages of marijuana usage by teens than states with no legal marijuana.
“Anyone who votes in favor of this marijuana legalization come November is voting to allow more children in the state if Ohio to use marijuana,” Negangard said. “How is that good under any scenario?”
Negangard called marijuana “a gateway drug.”
“It helps reprogram their brain to become more substance abuse-dependent, and so they’re more susceptible to the opiate problems,” he said.