Marijuana legalization pushed by Ohio's third-party governor candidates
Posted November 5, 2018 4:04 p.m. EST
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Rich Cordray -- who together have held public office for more than 60 years -- are flooding the airwaves with TV ads and live debates.
Meanwhile, Ohio voters will notice two other names on the ballot for governor: Libertarian Party of Ohio nominee Travis Irvine and Green Party nominee Constance Gadell-Newton.
Irvine, 35, of Bexley is a self-employed filmmaker and journalist who worked on the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns of Libertarian Gary Johnson.
He said he wants to give voters a choice beyond the "duopoly" of the two major parties and also represent the interests of millennials.
If elected governor, Irvine said he would expand the nascent medical marijuana program, drop many of its regulations and push for legislation to fully legalize marijuana statewide by 2022. Marijuana legalization, he says, would go a long way toward solving the deadly opiate crisis gripping Ohio, giving people the option to use marijuana instead of narcotics.
Irvine also said he supports criminal justice reforms that would put non-violent, low-level drug offenders into treatment programs instead of prisons -- a move he claims would save $500 million a year.
He opposes expanded Medicaid, which currently helps pay for drug treatment for tens of thousands of Ohioans, and instead says savings from the prison system should be used for treatment programs.
He opposes all gun control, including the "red flag" bill proposed by Republican Gov. John Kasich that would allow for a court order to remove weapons from individuals who appear to be a danger to themselves or others.
He describes himself a "pragmatic Libertarian" who does not oppose all government regulations.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio regained minor party status this year for the first time since 2014. Irvine will need 3 percent of the vote for the party to stay on the presidential ballot in 2020.
Irvine has never held elected office but said he's been interested in politics since childhood, noting he voted for independent candidate Ross Perot in the mock election staged for his third-grade class. He decided to become a Libertarian, he said, after hearing Ron Paul in a presidential debate in 2007.
Gadell-Newton, 38, is a Columbus-based attorney practicing in the areas of criminal defense and elections.
Gadell-Newton also favors marijuana legalization, but if elected she says she would also push for an immediate moratorium on fracking and injection wells in oil and gas exploration, boosting the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and a plan for offering universal health care to all Ohioans.
In addition, she said, she would move to convert the state to all-green energy sources by 2035, make Ohio an immigration "sanctuary" state and change the k-12 school funding formula so that it is less reliant on property taxes.
"I truly want to represent all the people of Ohio," she said. "I will represent all Ohioans, regardless of their political affiliations."
When it comes to guns, Gadell-Newton said she favors what she called reasonable restrictions, such as a ban on bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and improvements in the background check system. She noted she would want to see the details of a red flag law before taking a position.
Ohioans facing low-level, non-violent gun charges should be given an option to take a safety and gun law class in lieu of conviction, she said.
On the opioid crisis -- a focus of all the governor candidates this year -- her plan includes a push for universal health care, she said, that would involve expanding mental health and addiction treatment services.
"We cannot incarcerate our way out of this," she said.
Gadell-Newton said she got involved in the Green Party because she fundamentally agrees with its 10 key values, including diversity, feminism and non-violence.
Story Filed By Cox Newspapers
For Use By Clients of the New York Times News Service