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'Morally Wrong': Ohio Clergymen Unite to Oppose Legalization of Marijuana in Buckeye State

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More than 100 faith leaders throughout North Central Ohio are urging lawmakers not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

According to Front Lines Ohio, some 110 clergymen send an open letter to area mayors, local chambers of commerce, and local clergy explaining that legalizing illicit drug use will further corrupt society.

Several of the Ohio clergy who signed the letter held a press conference promoting a "Believe Local" campaign that challenges the decriminalization of drugs. 

"We support vibrant communities and encourage policymakers to 'Believe Local,' Mansfield Pastor Joe Nichols said during the briefing. "Therefore, based on local community standards reflected in its history and leadership, and as clergymen representing 110 congregations across North Central Ohio, we believe the legalization of recreational marijuana and the relaxation of drug enforcement laws like syringe exchange programs and designated outdoor refreshment areas disrupt health and safety and are morally wrong." 

Pastor Chad Hayes, who leads Recovery Ministries (RU), turned to scripture, pointing out that communities are at risk of corruption if drug use is permitted.

"The stabilizing Judeo-Christian foundations of our society are under assault. With a skyrocketing opioid crisis and the implementation of drug-legalization policies, our vibrant communities are being threatened. As the Bible says in the Book of Psalms, 'If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?'" Hayes asked.

The open letter revealed data from states where cannabis has already been legalized, and the negative effects that the drug has on brain development in youth and an increase in road accidents.

Several of the clergymen have churches in urban areas that minister to families who are struggling to overcome substance abuse.

Meanwhile, two state Democratic lawmakers support the legalization of marijuana and recently filed a new recreational marijuana bill, WEWS News reports.

If the state enacts the "Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative," adults 21 years of age or older will be permitted to purchase, possess, use, cultivate, and sell the drug, according to Ballotopedia.

Additionally, adults could have up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be allowed to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household.

Legalizing the drug would also generate a 10 percent cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and allocate funds to support various projects that promote the cannabis industry.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) expressed his lack of support for the initiative, saying, "I do not, however, support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I have seen the negative effects it has had in states that have legalized it and fear that it would also lead to increased use by underage kids and that small children could consume marijuana-laced foods that look like candy."

Emerson College conducted a survey during Feb. 2022 where 410 likely voters were asked if recreational use of marijuana should be legal in Ohio. 
The poll showed that 50.4 percent of likely voters were in favor, 39.7 percent opposed, and 10 percent were undecided.

"As it relates to recreational marijuana, I'm not in favor of it," Senate President Matt Huffman said earlier this year. "I'm not going to vote for it, I'm not going to support it."

"I don't want anybody to misunderstand my position — I'm not going to bring it to the Senate floor," Huffman continued. "If that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it."

Since June 2021, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. 

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the MORE Act, a bill that would decriminalize cannabis. It removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.

It was the second time such a bill has passed the House, but the measure will face a tough time in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said the bill will be introduced to the Senate, but not until later this summer probably before the August recess. 

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About The Author

Andrea Morris

Andrea Morris is a Features Producer for The 700 Club. She came to CBN in 2019 where she worked as a web producer in the news department for three years. Her passion was always to tell human interest stories that would touch the hearts of readers while connecting them with God. She transitioned into her new role with The 700 Club in August 2022.