By Jeff Gallatin
School officials said they weren’t blowing smoke Monday night when the Bay Village City Schools Board of Education passed a resolution opposing state Issue 3 which, if passed, would legalize the use of marijuana in Ohio.
“It absolutely sends the wrong message to pass Issue 3,” Gayatry Jacob-Mosier, the school board member who initiated the legislation, said after the meeting.
By passing the resolution, Bay Village becomes the first Westshore school district to formally take a stance on the issue. All four members present, Amy Huntley, Jacob-Mosier, Bob Piccirilli and Bill Selong voted for it. Mike Caputo, who was out of town on business said via phone Tuesday he supports opposing Issue 3. School District Superintendent Clint Keener also expressed his opposition to Issue 3.
Jacob-Mosier said after attending a district-sponsored forum earlier this month about dangers of heroin and drug use, she felt the Bay Village schools needed to take a strong stance on the issue.
“We’ve had a series of forums, workshops and other events the last few years where we speak and put out information about the dangers of drug use,” she said. “If we’re putting all that information out – then we also need to make our feelings known. We need to let people know the district is actively fighting against drug use.”
Jacob-Mosier said facts support taking a stance against the issue.
“Marijuana is not heroin, but it is a gateway drug in that it leads to use of other drugs,” she said. “Issue 3 would make it easier to get marijuana and could lead team to using other drugs. It would allow some people to grow marijuana, like some 21-year-olds. Many of our students have older brothers and sisters in that age range. Some of them could let their younger siblings have access to it or the younger ones could try and take it because it’s accessible. We simply don’t need to take those kinds of chances with our children.”
Jacob-Mosier, whose extensive activity with Bay Village PTA organizations helped lead to her becoming a school board member, noted the Ohio PTA, the Ohio School Board Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and other state groups have also taken stances against Issue 3.
“I know Issue 3 would let it be used for medical purposes but there is also plenty of data available about the potential dangers of marijuana and drug use which we have to be mindful of,” she said.
Caputo, who as a principal member for McDonough Caperton in Cleveland spends much time dealing with legislators and other state officials, said he opposes Issue 3 but issued a cautionary note.
“It’s a stupid issue the way it is drawn up and I’m going to vote against it,” he said. “But, we do need to to be careful about the school board – or any school board – taking stances on political issues like this. It’s a slippery slope and it’s not something we should be making a habit of doing.”
Keener said Issue 3 would make marijuana too accessible.
“Even though it’s designed for adults, a passage of Issue 3 would make marijuana too accessible for youngsters,” he said. “That accessibility brings potential problems and dangers they don’t need. The way this issue is written makes it too potentially easy for students to be able to get at the marijuana. And we don’t want it leading to other addictions and problems.”
When told later about the school district’s action, Bay Village City police Chief Mark Spaetzel, whose department works closely with district officials on drug and safety issues, was pleased.
“It’s a good move,” he said. “You won’t see too many law enforcement people supporting Issue 3. It presents too many potential problems.”
Spaetzel noted that marijuana can promote problems like alcohol and other drugs do.
“It can cause intoxication or impairment which inhibits people’s physical abilities or ability to drive a vehicle or perform other tasks – which causes safety problems for all of us,” he said. “As police we’re supposed to keep people safe. Issue 3 really doesn’t promote that.”