A candidate for Ohio’s governorship next year and longtime liberal voice on the state Supreme Court has thrown his support behind full-on cannabis legalization in the state and is advocating for the release of “all non-violent marijuana offenders” from prison, according to a report from CleveScene.
Judge William O’Neill made the comments during remarks at a Wayne County Democratic Party meeting.
“The time has come for new thinking,” O’Neill said during the appearance. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass.”
He estimated that a legal cannabis market in Ohio could be worth as much as $350 million which could help bridge budget gaps, and provide mental health and drug addiction services.
“Treat addiction like the disease it is in the name of compassion,” he said in an Associated Press report.
O’Neill’s position contrasts the current governor and former Republican presidential contender, John Kasich, who has publicly shot down questions about legalizing recreational cannabis in the state. It’s been nearly one year since Kasich signed the state’s medical cannabis bill and almost nine months since it took effect; however the final rules were just released in April and no companies have been licensed, meaning patients are still waiting for relief.