Why I Support the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment

petition.jpgThe Constitution of the State of Ohio
Bill of Rights  Article 1:, Section 1

States that Ohioans are, “by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.”  Every word of this preamble is honored in our proposed amendment titled the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment.
Our rights to live our lives as free people was enshrined in our State Constitution by our forbearers and was defended over the centuries by our bravest citizens.  Many of those defenders of freedom are in attendance today and I wish to take this moment to thank them for their service to us all.  These Veterans and other ailing Ohioans want nothing more than to exercise these stated rights and decide for themselves how best to enjoy their lives and seek happiness and safety.
My name is John Pardee, the President of The Ohio Rights Group.  My mission began 5 years ago when my son was severely injured in a car accident.  And my need to advocate on his behalf, lead me to start advocating on behalf of all suffering Ohioans.  This journey lead me to find the amazingly talented and caring people that have formed The Ohio Rights Group.  Unlike me, many of these fine folks have dedicated their lives to reform.  These internationally recognized experts have spent decades spreading the truth about cannabis and fighting against an unjust system. What these fine people have taught me is that we Ohioans are not powerless.  Unlike many states, we Ohioans have the ability to amend our state constitution by popular vote and by the voice of the majority we can chart our own destiny independent of any entrenched legislative body.
I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me longing to tell their own personal stories of anguish and helplessness to anyone who really cares and can effect meaningful change.  Like me, these good people have found a voice in the Ohio Rights Group.  I’ve met an endless parade of chronically sick people who come to me saying how their ever-present pain is abated by it and they use it to get out of bed in the morning and sleep soundly at night.  There are an estimated 931,000 Ohioans who live with chronic pain.  All of these people, if they so choose, could benefit by allowing them safe access to the various therapeutic compounds found in this amazing plant.  The science is in; cannabis is safe and effective for treating the many physical and cognitive ailments that currently plague millions of our people.
So why am I here?  I stand here and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves for fear of losing their jobs or their earned benefits or being branded a pothead.  I have news for all of you, these “potheads” are your doctors, your lawyers, your ministers, your veterans, your teachers, and business owners who come from every walk of life who know that this plant is safe and they have used it for years all the while doing their jobs with professionalism and pride.  The Ohio Rights Groups proudly speaks for those who can’t speak for themselves.
I do this for the thousands of young people, whose lives have been ruined by the failed war on cannabis.  Over 25,000 Ohioans per year are arrested for their involvement with cannabis.  We spend over $203 million dollars per year to arrest, prosecute and jail our people.  All this does is destroy their lives and slam shut the door of employment and opportunity. I want our young people to be our future, not our ward.  I want them to be celebrated and educated, not indicted and convicted.  I want them to be doctors, and lawyers, and carpenters and programmers not inmates and felons, ex-cons, and parolees.
I do this because we, as a nation, are failing our returning veterans. The VA estimates that we are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide.  This is a national disgrace.  Too many of these heroes are perishing by their own hand because the nation is failing miserably at providing them the care they so bravely earned.  Why are we vilifying a therapy that so many veterans credit for helping them through their darkest hours?  These Ohio vets served their country honorably so that I, and the rest of you, can live free.   So I am honored to join them in this struggle so they in turn can be freed from the lingering shackles of war.
I do this to reinvigorate Ohio’s family farms. Hemp is a deep-rooted plant that will aerate their soil, add a low maintenance and profitable crop to their rotation and give them a measure of independence from the encroachment of big agribusiness. There is evidence that Hemp can be grown more than a dozen years without soil depletion or reduction in yield.  Let’s let Ohio farmers decide if hemp is right for their futile fields.
I do this because I’m tired of millions of dollars that leave our state in brown paper bags headed across the border to enrich foreign drug cartels.  That money could be used right here to start new businesses, feed Ohio families and contribute to the tax base needed to rebuild our rusting economy.  I want to take this product out of the hands of the cartels and put it in the hands of shop owners and healers.   When the DEA and foreign drug cartels agree that maintaining cannabis prohibition is a good idea, then you know damn well, the system is broken and it’s time to set it right.
And any politician who claims to be a budget hawk and supports continued prohibition is either a lobbyist lapdog or a damned fool.  This ill-conceived ban on cannabis costs the nation over $7 billion in enforcement and forgoes over $6 billion in potential tax revenue.  From a strictly fiscal responsibility standpoint, the first thing we should cut isn’t social security and it isn’t veteran’s benefits.  It’s time to scuttle the Federal Prohibition on Cannabis once and for all.
I do this as a proud Ohioan, one who is tired of watching all of the innovations being created in other states and the medicinal values being unlocked in other countries.  I want to see this plant grow the Ohio economy, grow our tax base, grow our infrastructure and grow our research and development sectors.  Passage of the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment will grow our prominence in all industries that connect to this dawning economic sector; like biofuels, textiles, health foods, biodegradable plastics, medical research, building materials and the rest of the 50,000 uses already known and the thousands more uses yet to be discovered.
I’m also doing this job because those in Columbus and Washington have failed to do theirs.  Many of these politicians have known for decades that this plant is harmless, and in fact, quite beneficial in many circumstances, yet they did nothing.
And to that end, we Ohioans have a unique opportunity to help all suffering Americans by citizen decree.  We all know that Ohio is THE epicenter of national politics.  When we sneeze, Washington DC gets a cold.  So here we are Ohio; the heart of it all, standing on the cusp of history.  We have a strong political wind at our back on this issue. More than 70% of Ohioans support allowing our citizens the right to safe access to therapeutic cannabis and more still support industrial hemp production.  Americans from California to Michigan to Maine are fully behind ending the Federal Prohibition on cannabis and returning the rights of self-determination back to the citizens of those states.   The only thing standing in our way is the hard-wired intransigence of our federal government.  People of America hear our call.  We want you to look upon Ohio and our movement as the spearhead aimed at the heart of Federal prohibition.  Help us change Ohio and in doing so, we will help free you from the ruinous, expensive and antiquated prohibition on cannabis.  It’s time to put our suffering citizens at the front of the line for a change.  It’s time to tell our elected leaders, that we’ve had enough.
Enough of your decades of inaction while people suffer in pain.
Enough of your ignorance about the safety and benefits of cannabis.
Enough of your fear mongering and spreading lies to aid your corporate pals.
We Ohioans and the Ohio Rights Group say no more.
No more delays, no more empty promises.
We are taking action because you have failed to act.  We will tolerate it no more.
No more ruining the lives of our young people by sending them to prison or fleeing to other states while you pretend to give a damn.
No more seizing a man’s property when his only crime is loving his ailing wife.
So, if you are like me, and you have had enough, please join us.
If you are tired of watching a loved one suffer pain with no safe options, join us.
If you want to support our veterans on and off the battlefield, join us.
If you want to see our young people as our future and not our burden, join us.
If you want to see family farms bounce back stronger than ever, join us.
If you want to see Ohio retool our rusting factories and forge a path to a new and greener economy, please join The Ohio Rights Group.
Anyone in America who hears our message, please help us.
Help us change Ohio and in doing so we can change America as a whole and finally, after all of these years of senseless suffering, we will be free.

Honored to serve,

John P. Pardee, President
The Ohio Rights Group