In the thrilling conclusion to a story which has been covered at this very website before, Ohio voters have overwhelmingly shot down a proposal to legalize marijuana in that state. And this may shock some people who have heard me refer to the War on Drugs as “the greatest affront committed by our government upon its citizens” (in fact, I said this very thing in my recent interview with John McAfee! What a convenient plug opportunity!), but at the end of the day I am glad this ballot initiative did not pass.
How could one who holds individual liberty as a primary political value possibly oppose a measure which would legalize marijuana? As my father always says “If it seems to good to be true, it is”, and in the case of this Ohio ballot initiative – “Issue 3” there are some major catches.
Issue 3 would essentially create a cartel run by the wealthy elites who spent $40 million sponsoring it, allowing them and only them to grow and sell marijuana commercially in the state of Ohio. This is a pure example of crony capitalism. It would have firmly entrenched this marijuana monopoly in Ohio, one which would be very difficult to unroot once established.
It’s hard to say why citizens of Ohio rejected the measure. It was shot down by a 2-1 margin, despite polls which showed support for legalization running about even. Certainly some percentage of the “no” votes were from people who are straight up opposed to legal marijuana in any way, shape or form. But it’s likely that a good number of voters were from those who favor legal marijuana but were also keen to the crony machinations behind the bill, and voted accordingly.
The passage of Issue 2 – which prohibits monopolies from being setup under the state constitution – suggests that there was at least some opposition to the monopoly aspect of Issue 3.
While it certainly would be a positive to see marijuana become legal in yet another state, it would have set a dangerous precedent for other states and even the federal government going forward as marijuana legalization across the land becomes inevitable. In this case, the bad outweighs the good, and in the long run it’s better for Ohio and opponents of the War on Drugs that this measure failed.
I don’t see the defeat of Issue 3 slowing the national momentum for ending marijuana prohibition…voters, including those who would like to see marijuana legally regulated and taxed, were clearly turned off by the oligopoly provision. None of the legalization initiatives enacted to date — in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska — contains such a provision nor do any of the initiatives headed to the ballot in 2016 — in California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and possibly Michigan.
The lopsided defeat of Issue 3, combined with the likely victory of the anti-oligopoly initiative, will likely discourage investors in other states from backing any marijuana legalization initiative that contains a similar provision. And that’s a good thing.
Up with legalization, yes absolutely. But down with crony capitalism while we’re at it. We can do both!
To discuss this and all of our articles and podcasts, join our private Facebook group, The Lions of Liberty Forum