- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - A longtime Republican prosecutor in southwest Ohio said he is not opposed to legalizing marijuana and has agreed to lead a task force on the possible effects of doing so.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (DEE’-turs) said he doesn’t have a problem with legalization. He told The Cincinnati Enquirer (https://cin.ci/1IxpQSq ) he’s unhappy with Ohio’s marijuana laws, calling them a waste of taxpayer money.

“I think they’re outdated and ludicrous,” Deters said Monday. “I don’t use marijuana, but I know people who do use marijuana, and I’d rather deal with someone who smoked a joint than someone who drank a bottle of vodka any day of the week.”

ResponsibleOhio, a group supporting marijuana’s legalization, asked Deters to lead the committee.

Finding an affordable and efficient way of testing drivers suspected to be under the influence of marijuana is one of Deters’ priorities. He hopes to have a report on effects of legalization within several months, he said.

A proposed amendment on legalization in Ohio would license 10 marijuana farms, some of which investors have already purchased. Deters said that he’s not taking sides on the proposed business model, but that it would make sense for the state to regulate and tax marijuana.

The proposal places a 5 percent tax on retail sales and a 15 percent tax on farm transactions to the test labs, manufacturing sites and stores.

“You can walk outside your building and buy marijuana in 10 minutes,” Deters said. “The question is, do we want schools and local governments getting the money or the bad guys?”

He added that it would be smart for the state to prepare for legalization regardless of whether ResponsibleOhio succeeds.

“The days of ‘reefer madness’ are gone, because that’s not the reality,” he said.

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