Ohio Supreme Court Judge William O’Neill spoke at a meeting of Buckeye state Democrats this week and used his pulpit to call for an end to cannabis prohibition and the release of all non-violent cannabis offenders from the state’s jails.
According to the Guardian, O’Neill has expressed interest in running for Governor of Ohio in the next general election, but has put off the decision until the end of the year. In the speech he gave to the Wayne county Democratic party on Friday though, he certainly sounded like a man ready to run for office.
“The time has come for new thinking,” O’Neill told the room full of Democrats. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass.”
The judge said that legalizing cannabis and releasing non-violent cannabis offenders from the state’s pricey prison system would bring Ohio $350 million in state funds that O’Neill says could be spent on fighting drug addiction and better addressing mental health.
O’Neill’s plan may sound like a near-perfect way to end prohibition in the Buckeye state, but getting there will be the hard part - electing a democrat in historically red Ohio is no easy task. In fact, with his Supreme Court seat Judge O’Neill is the only Democrat currently holding a statewide elected office.