Pubdate: Sat, 03 Oct 2015
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Cincinnati Enquirer


There may come a time when Ohioans will vote on a pot legalization 
measure that fits the state. It won't happen this year. Ballot Issue 
3 is a bad idea for Ohio.

Issue 3 would alter the state constitution to legalize marijuana. But 
the measure comes with serious additional baggage. It would award the 
commanding heights of this new sector of the economy  the 
manufacturing of Ohio-legal pot  to those investors who spent 
millions on their campaign to put the issue on the ballot. It would 
shield their rich reward by constitutionally enshrining their right 
to the market and fixing in place the tax rate they would pay.

The ballot measure comes dressed in the trappings of the benefits of 
legalizing marijuana, and it is certainly an audacious proposal. But 
its promoters' display of benevolent inventiveness is self-serving.

That vote, however, should not be the end of the conversation about 
the kind of pot laws Ohio should have. The trend lines are clear. The 
Reefer Madness era has run its course. Both sides agree that our 
state's pot laws will change, and probably sooner rather than later. 
An increasing number of political leaders are recognizing that Ohio's 
marijuana laws have been deployed in a discriminatory fashion. There 
is proven value in marijuana's medicinal use, as well. Statewide 
legalization in Oregon and Colorado are still experiments in 
progress. But so far the results seem positive overall. Issue 3 
should be voted down not necessarily because it legalizes marijuana, 
but because of how it does so.

Pro-marijuana groups should learn much from the campaign waged by 
ResponsibleOhio, the group that formed to get Issue 3 on the ballot 
and now calls itself Yes on 3 Ohio. Too often, pro-pot groups are 
richer in screeds than practical proposals a majority of Ohioans can 
support and realistic paths to passage. ResponsibleOhio's campaign 
shows there is great value in uniting forces and taking the 
temperature of Ohio voters. But in the future pro-pot groups should 
consider putting forth proposals that provide incremental change to 
the state's laws on marijuana. The all-or-nothing approach might be 
ideologically satisfying but it is politically difficult.

ResponsibleOhio painstakingly attempted to split the difference 
between Ohioans' feelings about marijuana and the need to please its 
investors. The balancing act reveals Issue 3's greatest flaw: It 
doesn't put the public first. The proposal might have seemed like 
good gamble for its promoters, but it is a bad deal for Ohioans.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom