MONROE, Ohio -- A proposed marijuana grow site is just too close for comfort for Monroe Local Schools.
The district's board of education voted unanimously Monday to oppose Ohio Issue 3, a ballot measure that would let adults 21 and older buy marijuana for medicinal or recreational use and grow four plants.
Backed by the legalization advocacy group ResponsibleOhio, Issue 3 also would create a network of 10 authorized growing facilities and establish a regulatory scheme.
The Monroe Board of Education is the latest group to announce its opposition to the measure; other large organizations opposing ResponsibleOhio's legalization efforts include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.
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Monroe school leaders are particularly concerned that one of the commercial marijuana farms would be a 40-acre site near the northwest intersection of Yankee and Todhunter roads -- within walking distance of Monroe's elementary, junior and senior high school campus.
"I think the placement of anything like this -- no community would say, 'I want it in my backyard,' and I don't think our parents would like to see a pot farm or whatever you like to call it close to their schools where their children attend," Monroe Superintendent Phil Cagwin said.
He and other educators also worry that legalized pot would make the drug more accessible to children send the wrong message to students, who they've discouraged from substance abuse.
The board's resolution states, in part:
"Our teachers and administrators work very hard to help our young people overcome the obstacles and challenges that our society places in front of them. We fear that legalizing marijuana further threatens the health and safety of our young people and will have a negative academic impact on student achievement. We already spend a great deal of resources counseling our young people about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol abuse. We do not need another legalized drug to tempt our young people."
Faith Oltman, spokeswoman for ResponsibleOhio, told WCPO media partner the Journal-News that the organization believes Issue 3 would make it harder for kids to get pot.
"We want to protect our kids and make sure marijuana stays out of their hands too," she told the Journal-News. "Right now, drug dealers are selling to kids and they have access to highly-addictive, highly-dangerous drugs like heroin. Issue 3 will allow us to take back our streets from drug dealers who don’t ID kids, and it will create a tightly-regulated, taxed and safe industry for adults 21 and older."
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ResponsibleOhio gathered 320,267 valid signatures for the petition, 44,185 more than needed to be on the November ballot. Early voting begins Oct. 6 in Ohio.
As Monroe's board passed its resolution against Issue 3 on Monday, Ohio's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union came to bat for the embattled proposition. The ACLU opposes the criminalization of marijuana, saying it's contributed to mass incarceration for nonviolent criminals.
Other notable proponents including former Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, former Cincinnati police Chief Tom Streicher, United Food and Commercial Workers Union chapters 75, 880 and 1059 and Woody Taft and Dudley Taft Jr. -- descendants of President William Howard Taft.
CONTINUE: Who else supports and opposes Issue 3
Ed Richter of the Journal-News contributed to this story.