Police union opposes Ohio pot amendment

Posted at 1:39 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 13:39:01-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio's police union announced Monday its opposition to Issue 3 -- which, if passed, would make recreational and medical marijuana legal in the state.

The Fraternal Order of Police cited zoning issues, difficulty enforcing proposed laws in Issue 3, an increased possibility of driving while impaired and ease of access for minors among the safety concerns that led to their collective opposition.

“This proposal would make the daily challenges of our jobs even harder,” said Ohio FOP President Jay McDonald in a press release.  “How can we keep children safe when adults can legally possess significant quantities of marijuana at home within easy reach, or when marijuana retail stores can operate within a stone’s throw of a newly built school or daycare? Issue 3 is a nightmare for the law enforcement community.”

READ: Meet the people investing in ResponsibleOhio's pot plan

The FOP said the amount of marijuana legally allowed for possession under Issue 3 would "allow a heavy recreational user to maintain a 16-month supply at home." Ohioans would be allowed to posses up to nine ounces of marijuana, while current law deems possession of seven ounces as a felony. Under Issue 3, a combination of one ounce of commercially purchased weed and eight ounces of homegrown marijuana.

However, the FOP statement said "there is no way for law enforcement officers to distinguish between commercial, homegrown, or illegal marijuana" and that marijuana-infused edibles, like pot brownies or cookies, are not required to be measured.

The FOP also said the number of retail marijuana stores in Ohio could potentially outnumber the number of Starbucks or McDonald's in the state, and the location of the retail stores could legally allow convicted felons to work and own marijuana shops "located close to schools, daycares, churches and other locations constructed after January 1, 2015."

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“The last thing our neighborhoods need is a marijuana retail store in close proximity to a school, a playground, and other areas where children play, but Issue 3 would open the door to this kind of situation for newly constructed or established buildings," McDonald said in the press release. "This proposal would handcuff local municipalities by preventing them from restricting zoning, which is a primary tool for promoting public safety.”

READ: Ohio employers worry that pot legalization could impact safety and hiring

The press release also said Washington and Colorado, states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana, have seen "increases in marijuana-related DUIs and traffic accidents involving marijuana-positive drivers." The Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force reported an increase in marijuana-related fatal accidents up 66 percent since the 2009 legalization, and Washington state officials reported an increase in marijuana-related DUIs by 83 percent since the state's 2011 marijuana legalization.

READ: Cincinnati State president, former county coroner among latest pot amendment supporters

Celebrities (of sorts) like former basketball player Oscar Robinson, WEBN founder Frank Wood and Nick Lachey have spoken in favor of Issue 3. Gov. John Kasich and actor Drew Carey expressed opposition to the plan, citing safety and also concerns with ResponsibleOhio's potential to monopolize the marijuana market.

ReponsibleOhio is not mentioned by name in the FOP press release, but one line hinted at the group, saying Issue 3 "would create a monopoly for a small group of investors over the cultivation and sale of marijuana in Ohio."

Nearly 25,000 Ohio police officers are part of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.

The fate of Issue 3, ResponsibleOhio and marijuana in the buckeye state will be decided by Ohio voters on November 3.