Politics

John Kasich Says Marijuana Legalization Is 'A Terrible Idea'

| by Alexander Rubinstein

Marijuana legalization is a “terrible idea,” says Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Ohio will have a proposal for legalizing marijuana on its ballot in the fall.

“It sends mixed messages to young people about drugs,” Kasich told MLive on Sept. 1 as he was finishing touring through Michigan. “I don’t think we should do that. We need to tell young people to stay off drugs.”

Kasich distinguished that marijuana is not a hard drug like heroin, but said that legalization of pot could confuse the issue for young people.

“So some drugs are OK but others aren’t? We’ve got kids. Why don’t we just say don’t do drugs, period,” Kasich said.

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The Ohio proposal would legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use and allow for sales to adults over 21. It will go to the vote on Nov. 3.

In a surprise twist that angered both marijuana advocates and the state legislature, the ballot proposal would restrict growing operations to 10 sites owned by investors, in what congressional critics have called a “monopoly, oligopoly or cartel,” reported Vox.

Marijuana has been legalized via ballot initiative in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, though the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, a classification usually reserved for more dangerous drugs like heroin, ecstasy, hallucinogens and cocaine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

While some states, including Michigan, have more than one group looking to put legalization measures on the 2016 ballots, Kasich says he would “try to discourage the states from doing it,” if elected president. “Hopefully we’ll defeat it in Michigan and Ohio, but if states want to do it … I haven’t made a final decision, but I would be tempted to say I don’t think we can go and start disrupting what they’ve decided.”

Only a handful of presidential candidates have expressed opposition to the marijuana legalization but also said they would not try to interfere with state policies.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rick Santorum, a former senator, have promised to crack down on state-level legalization laws. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and businessman Donald Trump have said that they would let states decide. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has been the most vocal of the Republicans to oppose the federal government from getting involved with state policies, reported The Hill.

In April, national polling indicated that 53 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana, reports The Hill.

Sources: MLive, Vox, Drug Enforcement Administration, The Hill / Photo Credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr