Editorial: Issue 3 is nothing but a marijuana monopoly

Monetary ballot backers should not choose dispensaries

Case Western Reserve University students will soon have the unique opportunity to decide if they can legally use marijuana while in the State of Ohio. For many this likely means deciding a recreational drug they hope to use once 21 could become available.

When CWRU goes to the polls this November to vote on Issue 3, the Editorial Board appeals students to vote no on Issue 3. The Board is split on whether marijuana should be legalized, but the economics of the plan proposed by ResponsibleOhio gives the group more say in the sale of the drug than they should have.

According to Issue 3, ResponsibleOhio will choose 10 organizations that will grow and be able to distribute Marijuana to sellers. The group will choose these 10 based on who donated to their campaign the most. A total of 1,500 licensed sellers will then be able to sell marijuana across the state. There would even be an option for those not wanting to participate in the system. Through a license, individuals can have four personal marijuana plants.

The Editorial Board does not think that ResponsibleOhio should be able to choose who produces marijuana. In any political movement, those that donate to the cause do so because they are attempting to do something for the common good. These persons should be recognized for their actions, but to give ResponsibleOhio this decision-making power is a subversion of Ohio state government power. It would not be unreasonable to suggest the ResponsibleOhio is effectively trying to convince voters legalize a cartel.

The Board is not alone in thinking this. An opposing ballot was created by Ohio lawmakers. When students vote this semester, they will notice an ‘Issue 2,’ which prohibits the formation of monopolies in the state of Ohio. This ballot uses the word ‘monopoly.’

The Ohio Ballot Board, rightfully, also included the word ‘monopoly’ in the name of Issue 3. The Ohio Supreme Court ordered some parts of Issue 3’s wording to be the same, but left the name alone.

Issue 3’s headline will now read, “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes’

It’s easy to dismiss this as an anti-legalization disguised as an anti-monopoly movement. Still, irrelevant of the intentions behind attacking ResponsibleOhio, the fact remains that the group’s plan’s largest weakness is the power it gives them.

The policy missteps in this plan are not found in word semantics, but rather in economics. The bar to donate to ResponsibleOhio and be eligible for a dispensary is too high. Only wealthy individuals interested in profit from the promise of a dispensary would make this type of donation. With this, these 10 owners would have absolute control over the original price of cannabis throughout the State of Ohio.

These individuals could easily rack a profit and use this to lobby the Marijuana Control Commission that would be created by Issue 3. The commission would not be allowed to add or remove dispensary licenses for four years, enough time for the 10 owners to create a powerful lobby controlling the commission.

The businessman Peter B. Lewis was a big supporter of marijuana and donated money to legalization groups in various states. The first time he tried marijuana was when he was 39 and he used it after his leg below the knee was amputated when 64 years old. Unlike those backing ResponsibleOhio, he gave to the cause not to turn a profit, but to fight for the public good.

Irrelevant of CWRU student’s stance on legalization of marijuana, the Editorial Board believes they should vote no to Issue 3.