Ohio residents are preparing to turn in the ballot this month to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. But instead of a united front for marijuana supporters, a lot of them are opposing the proposal made by group ResponsibleOhio, claiming that it smells of monopoly.
“I would rather take the minor misdemeanor fine than let someone have such massive monopoly in my state,” said Samantha Van Ness, a weed advocate but a staunch enemy of the amendment. Though Van Ness is all for creating a thriving marijuana industry in Ohio, she doesn’t want it to be “at the cost of putting that squarely into a few pockets. That’s just as bad as it is right now, where the money’s already in a few people’s pockets.”
ResponsibleOhio’s initiative states that growing pot will be allowed only in 10 specified locations across Ohio. Ten groups of investors, including former NBA star Oscar Robertson, NFL player Frostee Rucker, and 98 Degrees boy band member Nick Lachey, already have dibs on those sites. These same people have collectively contributed $20 million into the campaign of amending the Ohio Constitution to grant them pot growing rights.
According to ResponsibleOhio Director Ian James, limiting pot cultivation to just 10 sites is a middle-of-the-road approach that will make cannabis easy to regulate and control, at least for the time being.
“We are Ohio, folks. We’re not a blue state or a red state. We’re a very purple, middle-of-the-road state,” he said. “And that requires that you have a middle-of-the-road approach that doesn’t always sit well with the right and it doesn’t always sit well with the left.”
James also said that calling the proposal a “monopoly” is unfair. “It’s certainly not a monopoly when thousands of Ohioans will be able to own and operate their own retail stores, their own testing facilities, their own manufacturing facilities,” he said.
But not all marijuana advocates are totally convinced. Another group, Ohioans to End Prohibition, is planning to pass a different amendment next year—one that would create a free market for marijuana growers.
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