Marijuana law would make monopoly

As it stands, a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana is a get-rich-quick scheme for a handful of investors – who, incredible as it may seem, want to use tax money to expand their sales.

Some legislators are worried about the proposal. They are thinking of a counter-assault in the form of a constitutional amendment that would bar marijuana monopolies.

A pro-legalization group, ResponsibleOhio, is collecting signatures on petitions calling for voters to decide the question. Reportedly, the petition drive is doing well.

Taking their cue from gambling interests who several years ago gained voter approval of casinos, the pro-marijuana forces are touting the millions of dollars in revenue for local and state governments that would result from legalizing and taxing marijuana.

They also are tugging at voters’ heartstrings by pointing out the plan would allow use of marijuana for those who need it to cope with medical conditions. That argument doesn’t hold water, however. Proposals to allow medical marijuana already are being discussed in the General Assembly.

Some of those signing ResponsibleOhio’s petitions may be so eager to legalize use of marijuana by everyone that they fail to read the proposed amendment. It stipulates marijuana could be produced only at 10 “growth, cultivation and extraction” facilities in Butler, Clermont, Franklin, Hamilton, Licking, Lorain, Lucas, Delaware, Stark and Summit counties. The proposed amendment requires those facilities must be on specific tracts of land – reportedly already owned by investors in the scheme.

In effect, adoption of the amendment would give those investors a marijuana monopoly in Ohio.

It gets worse. Under the proposal, part of the taxes collected would be earmarked “to fund a marijuana innovation and business incubator to award support … in research and development and to create new products, companies and jobs associated with the medical marijuana and marijuana industries in Ohio.” Tax dollars would be used to grow the drug business, in other words.

Lawmakers are right to be concerned. The plan is an insult to any Ohioan whose head is not addled by drugs.

editorial@tribtoday.com