In the run-up to November, the Ohio Republican Party seems deeply divided over the effort to legalise recreational cannabis in the state.
However, there’s a faction within the GOP that believes legalisation could be beneficial.
Callender, a Cleveland-area Republican known for his moderate stance on various issues, sees marijuana as safer now than it has ever been.
Emphasising the stringent testing standards proposed, he said, “Any cannabis sold would be tested in a pharmaceutical quality lab,” a level of assurance unavailable in yesteryears.
The ballot initiative, known as the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” campaign, reached its current position after an arduous journey involving lawsuits and invalidated signatures.
If passed, Ohio would be the third state to embrace cannabis legalisation this year, after Delaware and Minnesota.
The proposal would allow Ohioans over 21 to purchase cannabis and grow up to six plants, with a 10% sales tax levied on each transaction.
While GOP lawmakers like Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) back the initiative, Callender has expressed concerns about the aftermath, fearing that legislators may override the will of the voters.
The General Assembly, after all, has the authority to repeal a ballot proposal when it’s an initiated statute, potentially undermining the democratic process.
The political division isn’t just limited to the cannabis debate. The GOP is experiencing internal struggles with the recent speakership upheaval causing factions within the party.
As the November vote nears, it remains to be seen if Ohio will follow the lead of states like Delaware and Minnesota in legalising recreational cannabis, or if dissenting voices like DeWine’s will sway public opinion.
Whatever the outcome, the implications for the state’s political and social landscape will be profound.