Editorial: Issue 3 is a bad deal for Ohio

Posted at 7:09 AM, Oct 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-16 07:09:32-04

Someday, marijuana will probably be legal in Ohio. But you’d have to be stoned to vote for this plan.

Issue 3 would be a bad deal. A group of investors calling themselves ResponsibleOhio wants to change the state's constitution to legalize pot both for medical use and for recreational use. Ohio would go from a state where marijuana is now illegal to a full-blown pot party. It’s too much, too fast.

Legal pot almost seems inevitable. But this idea is little more than an attempt by a wealthy few to lock in to Ohio’s founding document a business plan worth billions.

The ResponsibleOhio investors, which include several with Cincinnati ties, stand to get richer while the landscape in Ohio is changed with industrial-scale pot farms in 10 counties (including Hamilton, Butler and Clermont), pot stores and a multibillion-dollar business that’s transacted in cash only because the banks and credit card companies won’t touch it.

Proposed grow site in Butler County

Their business plan would be embedded in the Ohio Constitution, where it couldn’t be changed except by another Constitutional amendment.  Opponents of the plan have called it a “monopoly.” It’s not really a monopoly. But it would set in stone what could accurately be called an “oligopoly.” Ohio’s Constitution shouldn’t be the vehicle for that.

Oligopoly: [ol-i-GOP-uh-lee] The market condition that exists when there are few sellers, as a result of which they can greatly influence price and other market factors.

Other problems with Issue 3:

Leave the Constitution Alone
We need a real debate on legalizing medical marijuana and on the wisdom of allowing purely recreational use.  That’s best done through elected lawmakers introducing legislation so information can be gathered, hearings can be held, votes can be taken and elected officials can be held accountable. With Issue 3, we’ve been so busy debating whether it’s a monopoly or not that the larger issues have been shortchanged.

Let’s see what happens in other states
ResponsibleOhio's campaign suggests that the rest of the country is already legalizing and that Ohio needs to keep up. That’s not true. Only four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska), plus D.C., now allow pot to be grown and sold simply to get high, for recreational use. Colorado has only been legal for 18 months, Washington and Oregon for less than that.  We can learn from those experiences. Let’s allow them to play out a bit longer and see what happens.

READ MORE:'s special report on Colorado, "The Weed Revolution" 

Debate medical marijuana first
It would be a logical first step to bring the potential medical benefits of marijuana to Ohio first before we even think about opening the door to full-scale recreational use. But Ohioans haven’t even had an opportunity for a full debate on legalizing medical marijuana.

Do we need that many pot stores?
Issue 3 would permit up to 1,156 marijuana retail stores in Ohio. That would be more pot stores than McDonald’s.

No, we don’t need that.

Vote no on Issue 3.

Here's a look at the ResponsibleOhio investors: