Ohio Supreme Court Justice Advocates Full Marijuana Legalization, Taxation

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O'Neill
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Ohio Supreme Court William O'Neill, long the bench's liberal voice and a current candidate for the governor's seat in 2018, has staked a vocal claim in favor of full-on marijuana legalization in the state.

The Associated Press covered the justice's recent speech, wherein O'Neill confronted the most recent presidential election and the various national trends surrounding marijuana. With more Americans supporting legalization, the thinking goes, the opportunity for state tax revenue is immense. “The time has come for new thinking,” O'Neill said. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass.”

He also wants to release "all non-violent marijuana offenders" from prison.

The current governor, John Kasich, has been rather hesitant to even have the marijuana discussion, preferring instead to let the legislature sort out a fairly conservative medical marijuana bill for him to sign last year. The recreational question has been shot down multiple times in public remarks.

O'Neill's comments certainly set him on a more progressive campaign trail, one and a half years out from the election.

And his remarks come at a time, of course, when the state's eight-month-old medical marijuana bill continues to morph endlessly. Businesses and local governments are still grappling with how to shepherd the law to reality, long after it was originally enacted. There's been a great of optimistic curiosity about the law, as well as plenty of resistance.

(As it happens, Cleveland City Council tonight will introduce legislation to lift its one-year moratorium on marijuana businesses. That moratorium is presently in effect until October, at which point most or all of the state's cultivation licenses will have been distributed.)

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