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Fellow Ohioans: If Issue 3 Passes, What Happens on November 4?

By Andy Joseph

Lack of a detailed plan, untried approach, fast roll-out, unprecedented lobbying, and legislative hand-tying will have disastrous consequences for legalization in Ohio, with national repercussions.

I have been a Ohio resident all of my life, and have every intention of keeping it that way.

I am also a businessman and have never delved into politics. My company, Apeks Supercritical, has enjoyed tremendous growth as a result of the legalization of marijuana throughout the country, and I have looked forward to the economic opportunities that legalization in Ohio would bring for several years.

Unfortunately, the opportunity that has been presented through Responsible Ohio’s constitutional amendment, known as Issue 3, lacks significant details and produces subsequent risks that could devastate legalization in Ohio.

It compels me to speak out against it.

Legalization at any cost isn’t appropriate

I applaud Responsible Ohio for bringing a much-needed conversation to the forefront. As our neighboring states legalize medical marijuana and further develop their medical programs, Ohio was going to be forced to have the conversation about it. Issue 3 put that conversation on a fast track.

I also applaud the national groups NORML and DPA (Drug Policy Alliance) or the strides they have made towards ending federal marijuana prohibition. I understand why their national focus would support any state’s path towards legalization, no matter how detailed or open the program is designed. However, I can’t in good conscience sit back and allow my state’s constitution to be hijacked for profit.

I don’t believe that legalization at any cost is an appropriate stance, and I believe that Issue 3 has a strong potential to cause the entire marijuana industry to take a step backwards.

There is a lot of focus on the monopolistic approach taken by Responsible Ohio, however the economic design isn’t my biggest concern. The aftermath of an amendment created by monopolistic investors will have wide-reaching effects which could bring federal scrutiny to Ohio.

Cautious legalization via medical programs, than recreational, is a proven method for success for other states, and, has advanced national legalization at an unprecedented pace. Issue 3’s lack of respect for the federal illegality of marijuana and for the Cole Memo is reckless and will do more harm for legalization than good.

A several lack of detail in the proposed amendment

Responsible Ohio’s argument against this has been that, “the amendment doesn’t violate any laws or the Cole Memo, and the Marijuana Control Commission will be responsible for implementing regulations that keep Ohio compliant with federal law”. They are correct; there is nothing wrong with the amendment. The problem lies in the execution that starts on November 4.

Although the constitutional amendment is 17 pages long, there is severe lack of detail required for a successful execution starting on November 4. The lack of details will require a Herculean effort by a currently non-existent and non-funded Marijuana Control Commission to create all of the critical details of a fully developed medical and recreational marijuana program from scratch by May 30, 2016.

That is just a mere six (6) months to have the definitions, the consequences, and the law enforcement ready and trained. The same effort took Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska more than three (3) years and is still a work in progress. As a point of reference, Colorado’s R605 recreational marijuana regulations alone are 177 pages long and took in excess of a year to fully develop.

The sense of urgency is obvious. A group of inexperienced, unqualified, and sometimes unknown marijuana investors have given themselves exclusive, constitutionally protected rights to profit (note that none of the investor groups are registered as non-profits) and need to see a return on their investment. Thus, rather than suggesting milestones to ensure a proper rollout which could include input from legislators, businesses and the public, the investors specified a date when they can expect to start to see a return without concern for the quality of the rollout.

Why such a fast-paced rollout?

As I have seen in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and several other states, one of the critical elements of success for implementation of detailed regulations is the opportunity to gain feedback from the stakeholders — business owners, consumers, municipalities, etc. The iterative process of developing regulations takes time, which is completely counter to producing a return on investment for the investors of the Marijuana Cultivation, Grow and Extraction facilities (MCGE).

The fast paced roll-out will undoubtedly create issues with the control required by the Cole Memo, but there are numerous other concerns as well.

The first concern is the last-minute additions of “artisanal grows” into the 10 MCGE sites. As of this week’s “Town Hall” meeting in Columbus, four of the 10 MCGE sites will allow up to 100 artisanal grows, basically a sub-lease to grow or extract on the constitutionally protected land. These artisanal grows increase the number of licensed growers from 10 to up to 400 – a significant increase in workload for a regulatory body to review business plans, criminal records, or any other items that the Marijuana Control Commission deem necessary.

Home grows will exponentially compound the licensing and regulative burden on the Marijuana Control Commission as well. Home grows will allow four plants and an unlimited number of non-flowering plants for every adult in Ohio over the age of 21. There are approximately 8 million adults over 21 in Ohio, and assuming that only 5 percent of them actually execute their constitutional right to grow their four plants, that would produce up to 1.6 million flowering plants.

A vote against constitutional hijacking

In addition to the already huge regulatory burden of implementing a recreational marijuana program from scratch for the “small number of regulated grows,” the Marijuana Control Commission must also now potentially license and regulate an additional 400,000 individual home grows. The idea that a governmental agency that doesn’t exist today can form, develop policy, and execute a plan to regulate recreational marijuana with up to 400,410 licensees in less than six months is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, compounding the issues of short timelines and inexperienced Marijuana Control Commission members, there will no doubt be significant political pressure from the investors seeking their return on investment. Responsible Ohio has already spent more than $2.6 million on consulting fees for the passage of Issue 3, and with legislators’ hands tied by the constitutional hijacking, it would appear that the Marijuana Control Commission may not be granted much authority or control once it is formed.

So, here’s one concerned Ohio resident’s position: Vote “No” for Issue 3 and allow responsible Ohioans to create the proper legislation for the use of marijuana in Ohio.


Andy Joseph

Andy Joseph

Andy Joseph is President of Apeks Supercritical, a manufacturer of CO2 subcritical and supercritical extraction equipment in Johnstown, OH. Joseph began building extraction machines more than sixteen years ago in his pole barn as a side business. In 2012, he left his positon as Director of Welding and Testing Labs for Edison Welding Institute (EWI) to dedicate full time to Apeks Supercritical. Today, the company has 500+ equipment installations in more than 20 states.

The inventor of five patents, including Valveless Expansion Technology, Joseph and his company were recognized as one of the “Top 100 Most Brilliant Companies” by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2014. In 2016, the company is a winner of the Edison Award and Joseph was a regional winner and national finalist in the EY (Earnest and Young) Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his outstanding leadership, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Joseph earned his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in welding engineering from the Ohio State University.

A two-time Navy Achievement Medal recipient, he served aboard the USS San Francisco as an enlisted nuclear propulsion mechanic.

A native Ohioan, he and his wife and five children live in Johnstown, not far from the company’s 17,000 square-foot facility.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Just vote YES on Issue 3!
    The details will work themselves out in the wash over the next 4 years, if you want to play the game, get involved in those conversations NOW!
    Out here in Washington State the initiative we voted for has completely changed. The trumpeters of both support and opposition have disappeared in the last 2 years. The real business people, destined to make the end of prohibition happen NOW are still working hard in the Evergreen State.
    The excise tax has been completely restructured. Zoning issues of local jurisdictions are changing policy to allow marijuana business zones.
    Vote YES and stop the madness!!!!

  2. Thanks Andy Joseph for the thorough analysis and commentary on Issue 3! I share your concerns and then some. If Issue 3 does pass, it will subordinate the rights and economic opportunities of every other landowner in Ohio to these 10 properties/corporations. If cannabis is rescheduled or otherwise legalized at the federal level these 10 will be playing King of the Hill with their bags full of money.

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