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Pot or not: MU considers Issue 3

With Election Day less than two weeks away, Issue 3 decision looms

By Samantha Mullin, For The Miami Student

Elections are less than two weeks away, and Miami University students have voiced differing opinions on the controversial Issue 3. If passed, Issue 3 would legalize the use of medical and recreational marijuana for those over age 21 in Ohio.

The proposed amendment would also permit 10 initial sites to grow marijuana for commercial sale. The sites, one of which is located in Butler County, would be controlled by campaign investors and compete with one another on the price and quality of the marijuana. After four years, the Marijuana Control Commission would be able to add additional licenses as they see fit, based on the demand of the product.

"Our plan is to start off slow and make sure the industry is safe, then add additional licenses as time goes on," said Faith Oltman, a spokesperson for ResponsibleOhio.

ResponsibleOhio is the group advocating for marijuana legalization through Issue 3.

If Issue 3 passes, Ohio will join the four states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana..

Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

Olivia Teteris, a sophomore who plans to vote Nov. 3, said legalization would be positive for students and people in general.

"If weed was legal, people would probably be happier in general, honestly," she said. "You don't usually meet stoned people who are belligerent or destructive. They're usually pretty laid back."

Publications, such as Business Insider, have published lists of health benefits of marijuana use, which include diminished anxiety and control of epileptic seizures.

Students also agreed that legalization could aide in coping with stress or mental illness.

"I think that when students feel overwhelmed with either schoolwork, social issues or anything else they're dealing with, weed helps," said Miami sophomore Todd Lambert. "That's not to say it's for everyone, but since so many people do smoke and such little harm really comes from it, students shouldn't have to face such harsh consequences."

In addition, Teteris said she feels that that if marijuana-related arrests in Oxford were to disappear, the fear of academic careers being ruined by convictions involving marijuana would also be removed.

Although many Miami students would like to see marijuana legalized, many of them may not have given much thought to voting. In a survey of over 100 Miami students, 65 percent felt that legalization would have a positive impact on Oxford.

However, 67 percent of the total respondents had not registered to vote. At the time of the survey, registration had already closed.

"I'm sad to hear that [so few students are voting]. We did make a big push to go out and register voters," said Oltman, who visited Miami with ResponsibleOhio earlier in the semester. "Of course, people who are most supportive of legalization are college students, so having their votes is very important, but we are talking to voters of all ages, and I think folks across the board support legalization."

The passing of Issue 3 may seem to be in the majority's favor, yet students are uneducated on the specifics of the amendment. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed either knew nothing about Issue 3, or knew very minimal details.

Of those who oppose the issue, a main complaint is that it doesn't expunge the records of anyone with previous marijuana-related convictions. If passed, the issue would not permit citizens currently serving a marijuana-related sentence any release.

The College Democrats at the Ohio State University are one of over 30 organizations against the passing of Issue 3. While the organization is for the legalization of marijuana, they believe Issue 3 is not the right way to do it.

"Issue 3 makes it legal for a select elite to have monopoly control of the market, charging us more for marijuana than in states like Colorado or Oregon, while doing nothing for the tens of thousands of Ohioans affected by marijuana -elated fines and convictions," the group said in an official statement, which can be found on their page, reads.

In response to this complaint, Oltman referred to the "Fresh Start Act," which, if approved, would expunge previous convictions and fines. She is confident that the Fresh Start Act will be on the 2016 ballot.

Teteris, however, did not share the opinion of the organization.

"I'm not totally informed on the issue, if I'm being honest, but I think it's fair that the people who were convicted with illegal possession before [legalization] keep the charges," she said. "It wouldn't make sense otherwise. They got charged while it was still illegal."