Why the legal pot measure failed in Ohio

CINCINNATI ENQUIRER: Voters turned back an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio on Tuesday.

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CINCINNATI ENQUIRER: Voters turned back an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio on Tuesday.

The business plan. “Boy, that word monopoly. It’s been an ugly word in politics since Theodore Roosevelt’s day,” political scientist David Niven at the University of Cincinnati said Tuesday night. Issue 3 was unique in the history of the modern legalization movement in that it would have written into the Ohio Constitution provisions to limit the cultivation of the state’s crop to 10 already-chosen properties. Issue 3’s backers said the plan’s advantage would have been to allow the state to tightly regulate marijuana at the grow source. The technical term for such an economic model is oligopoly. But the term “monopoly” got slapped on Issue 3 from the outset, and Issue 3 backers could never run it down.

Issue 2. The state’s political establishment threw everything it could to stop Issue 3. The Legislature wrote Issue 2, which would prohibit market monopolies, explicitly to prevent a “monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” from getting established in the state’s constitution. Democratic Rep. Mike Curtin of Columbus, who calls himself a constitutionalist, wrote Issue 2. Then he helped to assemble the key opposition group, Ohioans against Marijuana Monopolies, which pulled together nearly 140 groups from around the state for the fight including influential groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police, Chambers of Commerce and a host of health organizations. The measure to legalize recreational marijuana “was extreme,” Curtin said. “It was the most audacious proposed amendment in the state’s history since we had the initiative process.” Issue 3 backers called Issue 2 an effort to curb the initiative process. Voters did not agree and approved Issue 2.

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