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Ohio bishops: Vote no on marijuana proposal, yes on issues 1, 2

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Staff Report

The Catholic Conference of Ohio recommends a no vote on Issue 3 in a statewide election Nov. 3. Issue 3 allows production and sale of marijuana for personal and medicinal purposes.

The Catholic Conference is made up of the Catholic Bishops of the state and is the official representative of the Catholic Church in public matters affecting the Church and the general welfare of the citizens of Ohio.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns that the non-therapeutic use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life,” a spokesman for the conference said. “We do not believe that Issue 3 is well conceived. We agree with the opponents of Issue 3 that the scope of this amendment is overly broad,” says a Conference position paper on the issue.

“The Ohio Catholic bishops join with Ohio’s leading child welfare, hospital, mental health, legal, educational, law enforcement, religious, farm and chamber of commerce organizations in opposing Issue 3.,” said Tony Stieritz, director of the Catholic Social Action office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“The long list of amazingly diverse and reputable opponents should give anyone pause in their voting considerations. Flooding Ohio with recreational marijuana in this way can compromise health and safety of many Ohioans, especially children. Moreover, it’s the bishops’ judgment that the Ohio Constitution should not be used to enshrine a select group of landowners as the sole commercial growers for any industry.  These decisions could be more justly handled through our legislative process and the Ohio Revised Code,” Stieritz said.

“Many Ohioans, of course, are concerned that our current drug laws have resulted in mass incarceration, disproportionately impacted minority and low-income communities, and failed to address the underlying issues of drug addictions.  These are critical concerns that demand our attention, but they should be addressed through avenues other than Issue 3.”

Ohio’s Catholic Bishops, however, do support Issue 1, which creates a bipartisan, public process for drawing legislative districts through the creation of a seven-members Redistricting Commission. The bishops argue in a position paper that passage of Issue 1 “will create a fair, bipartisan and transparent districting process that will make politicians accountable to the voters.”

Also, the group is supporting Issue 2, which it says will “prohibit special interests from amending the (Ohio) Constitution to guarantee financial profits for themselves or get special economic privileges that are not available to other similarly situated persons or entities.”

The bishops believe the state constitution should be used to protect the fundamental rights of all individuals, not to guarantee profits for a select few.

The Catholic bishops encourage all voters to prayerfully study each issue, reminding voters that in the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue and participation in political life is an obligation.

Go to the conference website for more information on these issues and to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for more information on faithful citizenship.

The Ohio Secretary of State has the three ballot issues explained on its website as well.

 

Posted Oct. 19, 2015

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