Ever play Monopoly? As kids, it was a Friday-night ritual with my cousins for a while, though I was never much good … it takes too damn long, and I get bored. Mostly, I was there for the pizza and popcorn. What’s the meaning of those little place markers anyway — the sports car, iron, top hat, show dog and such? Symbols of status, and conspicuous consumption? How cute. my stepdaughter’s older girl is another story, an obsessive competitor in everything. She and her grandpa will keep a game running for days, with neither stubborn soul ever willing to concede defeat. But Mishal cheats,so I refuse to play with her. There’s more than enough of that shit in the real world for my taste. Then again, cheating is fully in the spirit of the game, so I guess I shouldn’t scold her for it. She’ll learn the hard way, if ever. But maybe I should pull out the old Scrabble set … if I can’t hold my own with words, I’ll give it up.
Okay, that’s my long-winded way of introducing yet another example of in-our-faces ruthless capitalism, coming soon to a state near me. This specific measure may or may not pass, I won’t even guess yet. But Ohio has been through this crap before. We voted down casinos more than once. Did the folks so avid to rake in money on gambling give up? You know better — money never gives up. Never. They doubled down, spending time and money where it would do most good — “educating” our voters … and our legislators. And … you know the rest. We were eventually blessed with our very own casinos. At least fifteen of them. We’re so lucky the free market has our best interests at heart.
So here we go again. Somehow, it was almost shocking to see ads for the current marijuana legalization ballot issue hit local television this summer. I don’t expect much 21st-century legislation to crop up here in the heartland. It’s not Indiana, but … you wouldn’t mistake it for Amsterdam, even if we had canals and windmills. My so-cynical reaction was to guess that Monsanto must already have fully GMO-ed, Roundup-readied, and patented, next-generation pot seeds. And to wonder who’s bought up (or confiscated?) all the best growing land here in the wild midwest. Be interesting to see recent property-transfer records for Meggs County, I thought. (Though perhaps not — no proposed sites are listed for it … maybe the amateurs who’ve been hard at work there for decades as I’ve been told, wouldn’t sell, or wouldn’t sell cheap. Interesting.)
In a way, I’m not all that concerned about this issue, marijuana’s never been my thing. I would love to see an end to our ludicrous and shameful so-called war on drugs, but it’s been so good for so much dirty business that I won’t hold my breath. On the face of it, this would seem a great improvement for Ohio’s people. Prohibition never works, except to make something people want harder to get and more expensive. A classic marketing strategy — manufacturing scarcity. Legalization should help with that, to a point. But no one’s putting up twenty million dollars out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect to make even more. Which I guess is fine. Unless they gouge those needing marijuana for its many medical uses — a despicable practice that’s all too prevalent and profitable these days. I don’t much like establishing yet another monopolistic industry, rigged from the outset to bolster our grinding corporate power structure. Then again, we know our people can be most creative and dedicated where evading invasive and irksome laws and restrictions are concerned. We’ll see what happens.
Daily Kos * Thu Sep 03, 2015 at 05:26 PM PDT
Currently, there are two competing proposals in Ohio that could dictate the process for marijuana legalization in the state if either is enacted.
The problem is one could be very bad for the state, and it’s the one on the ballot this year.
Responsible Ohio has a proposal which will be on the November 2015 ballot. This proposal is a seriously flawed law which would effectively create a monopoly on the marijuana industry controlled by a few wealthy investors who are fueling the campaign, to the tune of $20 million dollars.
The proposal would allow recreational and medical marijuana in Ohio. The most controversial aspect of the proposal is that the plan would limit marijuana cultivation to only 10 grow sites in the state and those grow sites have already been promised to—you guessed it—the wealthy investors who have ponied up to run this $20 million dollar campaign. This law will further line the pockets of the investors and shut out competition from other enterprising individuals who would want to break into the burgeoning market of marijuana products.
Marijuana will be taxed at 15% for wholesale and commercial use and 5% for retail use, and will only be available for purchase through the limited number of stores, which will be set at one store per 10,000 residents or about 1200 licensed stores around the state. Those stores can only sell marijuana grown at one of those 10 sites.
Responsible Ohio defends the proposal, claiming that the grow sites will not be coordinated and that they will be competing with each other, though there is little incentive for them to actually compete through lower prices when they have the market cornered. They also claim the industry will be open to the public and that those roughly 1200 business licenses will be available for the public.
Many of the stalwart national organizations working on drug policy have critiqued this plan, experts like Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance (If you haven’t watched his TED talk on the Drug War do it after you finish reading this). The experts over at High Times have some critiques too (and here is the response from Responsible Ohio).
A competing proposal from Ohioans to end prohibition, which created its campaign with the goal of being on the ballot in November 2016 seems like a much better option because of its competitive, open markets. Any adult will be able to apply to a state board for a license to grow, manufacture, or sell marijuana or marijuana products based on demand. There are no arbitrary caps set by this law—it would be based on those interested in entering the market and the demand in the marketplace.
This could allow for a vibrant competitive marijuana industry where any entrepreneur could start a business, after acquiring the license.
The debate, over these two proposals is vibrant and vehement—there are many pro-legalization supporters who are willing to wait another year for a better plan and there are some pro-legalization supporters who are willing to take what they can get sooner.
I would caution those supporters who choose the latter—many subscribe to the idea that if voters don’t like it they can change it.
Both of these proposals are constitutional amendments.
Changing a constitutional amendment is a painstaking process . There are three ways: It will take 60% of the Ohio legislature, a constitutional convention requiring 2/3 of legislators to agree, or a petition campaign with a Ohio Ballot board oversight and acceptance, then another vote of majority by the public.
That’s damn near impossible. Now, consider that those really wealthy people who have already invested millions of dollars in this campaign will fight like hell with all of their newly minted marijuana money to maintain their control. Ohioans will be stuck with whatever system they choose in the next two years—it’ll be tough to dismantle a system backed by a wealthy monopoly.
Now, to add additional confusion, there is a ballot measure on the November 2015 ballot which would ban constitutional monopolies—it’s a counter attempt to block the Responsible Ohio bill and others like it. If both were to pass in 2015 everything would be tied up in the Ohio supreme court.
The decision on the ballot this year could be disastrous. I support legalization but I urge Ohioans to wait until 2016 and get the right legalization policy. Rushing to the legalization line in 2015 is a bad idea and Ohioans will be stuck with their decision which could lead to less choice, competition, and higher prices. Or, folks can wait a year and get a flexible proposal which could lead to prosperity for many eager would be marijuana entrepreneurs, and more choice and freedom for marijuana enthusiasts.
Vote No on Issue 3 to vote against Responsible Ohio’s proposal. Vote Yes on issue 2 to vote against monopolies in the Ohio constitution. Then wait until 2016 for a better proposal.
The details: Responsible Ohio plan (the one on the ballot) —
– over 21 can possess up to 1 ounce, and grow four plants after paying a $50 registration fee
– 10 commercial growing sites, with 1100-1200 licenses for retail and production of marijuana-based products
– 5% retail tax, and 15% tax for wholesale.
Ohioans to end Prohibition proposal —
– over 21 can possess up to 100 grams of marijuana, with possession of more than 100 but less than 1000 grams is a ticketable offense, and adults can grow up to 6 plants
– any adult or corporation will be able to apply for a license to grow, manufacture, or sell marijuana or products
– tax rates will be $1 per gram of flowers, and $5 per sale of a seedling for wholesale
– consumers who are not patients will pay a 5% retail tax.
However this works out … I wonder. Once it’s legal, will we miss marajuana’s romantic outlaw image, or the music and humor we’ve had as a result? It will be extremely weird trying to explain the context for so many drug references from the last fifty years of popular culture. Offhand, I don’t know any good meth lab or crack house jokes or songs, but that may just be my ignorance. Or maybe such drugs aren’t much fun.