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Marijuana policy reform is one of the critical issues of our time. It is very likely to be on the November ballot and Ohioans deserve an honest and in-depth evaluation of the positive and negative impacts that legalization can have, so that they can be fully informed when voting.

The Marijuana Policies of Ohio Taskforce has conducted months studying current academic research and the experiences of states that have ended marijuana prohibition, in order to produce this report. It provides a straightforward assessment of the effects marijuana legalization can be expected to have, and it looks specifically at the anticipated impacts on public safety and law enforcement, our economy, and public health.

Ohio Marijuana Policy Reform Symposium – 6/11/15 The Marijuana Policies of Ohio Taskforce, chaired by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, presented the findings of its comprehensive research at a symposium on June 11th at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. The Taskforce’s research report assesses and analyzes proposed marijuana legalization initiatives in four key areas- public safety and law enforcement, the economy, public health, and regulatory impact. The symposium also included a panel discussion with nationally recognized experts in marijuana policy and law.
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Select Presenters –

Joseph Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney

Douglas Berman, Robert J. Watkins/Procter & Gamble Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Ric Simmons, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Professor for the Administration of Justice and Rule of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Sam Kamin, Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy; Director, Constitutional Rights and Remedies Program, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Alex Kreit, Associate Professor of Law; Director, Center for Law & Social Justice, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Fresh Air with Terry Gross – A conversation with author Don Winslow

A recent edition of NPR’s “Fresh Air” hosted by widely-renowned and highly-respected interviewer Terry Gross, featured award-winning author Don Winslow who has spent 10 years immersed in the Mexican drug wars. Winslow has studied all the players, from the lowly traffickers to the kingpins who head up the cartels. One of the characters in his new novel, The Cartel, is based on drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, who escaped from a Mexican prison in mid-July.

Winslow noted that El Chapo is a rich and powerful man whose escape was likely aided by accomplices inside and outside the prison. This was Guzman’s second escape. His first, in 2001, was followed by a surge in drug violence. “He got out and tried to reassemble a mega cartel and really take over the border territories,” Winslow told Terry Gross. “So, in effect, he touched off the war that went on for 10 years and cost 100,000 lives.”

Along with discussing Guzman, Winslow noted that ISIS operates in much the same way as the savage Mexican cartels that ship illegal drugs into the U.S. “Ten years before ISIS was releasing beheading videos the cartels were doing it,” the author said. “They’re very sophisticated. They know that they need, not only to control the action on the ground, but also the narrative, [to] control the story. I think ISIS is just taking a page from their playbook.”

He offered his perspective on America’s failed war on drugs. “We are the largest drug market in the world. We’re 5 percent of the world’s population — we consume 25 percent of the world’s illegal drugs. Mexico has the misfortune to share a 2,000 mile border with the largest drug market in the world. … It’s the illegality that makes those territories so valuable. If you criminalize anything only criminals can sell it. If only criminals can sell it, there’s no recourse to law, there’s only recourse to violence. That’s created the cartels. It’s our simultaneous appetite for — and prohibition of — drugs that makes those border territories worth killing for,” Winslow said.

He also noted that the legalization of marijuana in two states is having a huge impact on the cartels: “Just two states that have legalized marijuana, do you know what’s happened in Mexico? Forty percent of Mexican marijuana imports, they’ve been cut by 40 percent. In Durango and Sinaloa, where most of the marijuana is grown, they’ve almost stopped growing it now, because they can’t compete with the American quality and the American market. … I’m not making this up; you get this from Customs and from DEA, from the people who are trying to intercept it on the border and judge how much is coming through as a percentage of how much they seize, and what they’re telling us is it’s down 37 percent over the last two years. So by stopping fighting, just two states stopping fighting the war on that drug, it has been effective.”

To listen to the entire interview and hear more about Winslow’s take on America’s failed war on drugs and the futility of marijuana prohibition follow this link:

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