On Issue 3, Ohio's Proposed Marijuana Legalization Amendment

Tomorrow Ohioans will vote on Issue 3, a proposed amendment to the Ohio state constitution that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Although I support legalization, I am voting against Issue 3 and urge others to do the same.

Below are some of the reasons why I am voting no.

It establishes a cartel for all commercial production.

The amendment gives special power to 10 private corporations, which will control all commercial production in the state. The owners – not all of whom are publicly known – are wealthy donors to the pro-amendment campaign.

This amendment does not set up a highly regulated but free market. It does not permit a competitive, level playing field among entrepreneurs. It simply allows a few rich people to get substantially richer by exploiting the demand for marijuana.

As a constitutional amendment, it is not subject to judicial review or legislative adjustment.

This is a very intentional move by those who crafted the amendment. By being inserted into the state constitution this cartel structure and implementation are elevated above the state legislature and the state supreme court.

These branches of government, while imperfect, exist to the serve the people of the state. This amendment strips too much of that power to reinforce the profitability of a few wealthy individuals who comprise this cartel.

The legislature (or the people, via ballot initiative) should have the ability to change the implementation of marijuana legalization in the future, as we see what works and what doesn’t. The courts should have the ability to interpret these laws to ensure fair and just treatment of Ohioans.

It is a misuse of the constitutional amendment process.

The constitution is – or ought to be – a foundational document. It should lay out the structure of governance of the state. It should not be used to override the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary by special interests and implemented by mob rule.

The casino cartel amendment and the same-sex marriage ban are perfect examples of past abuses of the amendment process. On the contrary, Issue 1 this year, which addresses how congressional districts are drawn, is a perfect example of a proper use of constitutional amendments.

I have a lot of issues with the Ohio constitution (like electing judges) but the worst of it is that it is far, far too easy to amend.

Massachusetts decriminalized and Washington legalized marijuana through regular ballot initiatives, not constitutional amendments. Ohio should legalize marijuana this way. It would give the legislature (or the people, through further ballot initiatives) the ability and responsibility to adjust the laws governing marijuana production, regulation, and executive implementation. It would give the judiciary the ability to review legality and justice of these laws. And most importantly, it would not permanently enshrine in the state’s highest legal document which few individuals and corporations are able to set policy and profit from recreational marijuana.

Please vote no on Issue 3.