OPINION: John Kasich Needs To Own Up To Medical Marijuana Implementation Delays

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Roger Stone Political Consultant
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Nothing is worse than a hypocrite, especially of the politician variety. When John Kasich was a young aide to Ohio State Sen. Donald E. “Buz” Lukens, he was detailed to me to work as a Youth for Reagan field operative in Reagan’s out-manned campaign for delegates against Gerald Ford in the 1976 Ohio primary.

I received numerous complaints that Kasich was dealing marijuana to other staffers and asked that he be moved to another area of the campaign. My ex-partner and the top official in that campaign, Charlie Black, has denied this. Black, a 2016 Kasich adviser, is dissembling. 

As a libertarian and strong supporter of comprehensive marijuana legalization in America, I don’t care if John Kasich ever smoked or even if he is smoking it at this very moment. But Kasich’s deceitful, hypocritical scheme to reinvent himself as a drug warrior along with his epic bungling of the implementation of Ohio’s medical marijuana program — designed and intended to provide relief to sick, suffering and dying patients — demands comment.

 In 2016, after 18 years of inactivity on the issue, Ohio passed a medical marijuana law. Next door in Pennsylvania, the state government took the same route in passing a medical marijuana program. But the tale of the two states couldn’t be more different.

 In Pennsylvania, the medical marijuana law was signed just 51 days before Ohio passed its law, so the two states should be in tandem in implementing their respective programs and, thus, provide a straightforward basis for side-by-side comparison.

 Today, Pennsylvania has already registered nearly 20,000 medical marijuana patients and relief is now coming to 1000’s of suffering Pennsylvanians. In Ohio, the number is ZERO.

 The Keystone State has already certified 5,000 doctors for their medical marijuana program. In Ohio, the Keystone Kops — AKA Cannabis Kingpin Kasich‘s coterie of petty, small-minded bureaucrats — have registered ZERO.

 While Pennsylvania forges ahead with bringing relief to the sick and the suffering, Kasich bungles and Ohio flounders.

 We’re learning more, but we know that Kasich‘s Ohio Department of Commerce hired three consultants to make rules and score the process. One was a convicted drug dealer and the others had massive conflicts of interests.

 Kasich’s regime granted licenses to five applicants who made false, misleading and fraudulent statements on the initial paperwork they turned into the Ohio authorities.

 Don’t take my word for it. Kasich’s fellow Republican State Auditor Dave Yost examined the program and discovered that a convicted drug dealer had been one of those who designed the state’s assessment process. Yost reviewed Kasich’s plans and said there were “critical flaws” in the governor’s process and that any outcomes were “unreliable.” Yost concluded that Kasich’s program is an “epic failure.”  

 Yost admonished Kasich’s bureaucrats in the Ohio Department of Commerce to lawyer-up, pointing them to the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s for help.

 Remember, Yost is a fellow Republican, so Kasich has no legitimate grounds for dismissing these criticisms as partisan attacks.

 It gets even worse: Kasich‘s bureaucrats cannot produce any of the assessment process’ scorecards, notes to applicants, notes to one another on the scoring process, or ANY written documentation to substantiate the decisions by which they picked the winners and the losers in the medical marijuana licensing process. Apparently, the process for implementing a major statewide program in Kasichland is conveniently conducted using disappearing ink.

Here’s what Yost had to say: “It looks at the very least that this was flawed enough that there wasn’t a fair shake for everybody, and at the worst we may be in a situation that none of us want to think about happening — but the government may have been in a position where a thumb was on the scales somewhere.”

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana program implementation has been nothing less than a travesty, and Kasich needs to own up to his role.

Kasich should roll up his shirt sleeves, report to his own office for duty and get to work addressing the problems facing the people of Ohio, who elected him to govern their state and serve the people of Ohio, not to traipse around the country running for president in 2020.

Due to Kasich’s gross professional negligence and self-serving presidential ambitions, the medical marijuana program in Ohio is going to languish.

The lawsuit to hold the program accountable is going to linger, with the discovery process rolling on and exposing the depths of cronyism and corruption for which Kasich was so well known in the D.C. swamp.

Thanks to Governor Phony Fiscal Fiduciary, Ohio taxpayers are going to foot a needless but growing legal bill, while suffering patients in need of medical marijuana are put on hold, left to languish. Unfortunately, there is no pause button for their pain.

 Remember that while all this is taking place, the sanctimonious John Kasich is jetting around the country hawking his book, glad-handing anyone foolish enough to listen to his hokey sales pitch, awkwardly appearing on Sunday talk shows, and seemingly popping up anywhere in America where a camera red light comes on in a TV studio, as Kasich the campaign pot dealer spends time and effort he owes to the people of Ohio chasing yet another of his failed presidential campaigns.

And the prospects for Kasich’s successor are no better. Attorney General DeWine has opposed every Ohio medicinal marijuana measure and says he will veto any move towards broader legalization. Only DeWine’s Libertarian opponent for Governor Travis Irvine recognizes the advantages of accessible medicinal cannabis over killer opioids.

Roger Stone is a legendary Republican political consultant and a veteran of many national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.