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I’m Betting That the 2nd Time Will Be the Charm for Ohio Legalization

As the Columbus Dispatch describes it, “The push to legalize marijuana isn’t going away in Ohio.”

This is a bit surprising after the debacle in Ohio for legalizing marijuana the last time around.

According to the newspaper:

Two medical-marijuana issues are proposed for the fall ballot, and the legislature is looking into legislation regarding potential medical uses for pot.

While no one is pitching a for-profit plan for recreational marijuana, as ResponsibleOhio did before Ohio voters dumped it last fall, there might be openings in the new proposals to turn marijuana into cash.

Ah, yes … Responsible Ohio. They were behind the disastrous Issue 3 push to try to both legalize marijuana and monopolize the Ohio cannabis market in one fell swoop, but they grossly overreached and offended voters at large, leading to a crushing defeat at the ballot box last November.

You can’t put it  any plainer than Curt Steiner, the campaign director for Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies did, when it was clear how the election was going on election night last November:

Issue 3 was nothing more and nothing less than a business plan to seize control of the recreational marijuana market in Ohio … Never underestimate the wisdom of Ohio voters. They saw through the smokescreen of slick ads, fancy but deceptive mailings, phony claims about tax revenues and, of course, Buddie the marijuana mascot.”

I thought that ResponsibleOhio would be back pushing a little more sensible ballot amendment this time around, but they’re staying out of it this time and maybe that’s all for the best,

For this go-around, the Washington, D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project is driving the bus for the Ohio legalization proposal, and as the Columbus Dispatch notes, they appear to have “the proposal with the best organization and funding behind it.”

If approved, the initiative would allow:

  • Some 215,000 patients with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana as prescribed by a doctor;
  • Permit patients to grow marijuana for their own use, or buy it from retail dispensaries;
  • Restrict the use of marijuana in public places or while driving; and,
  • Create a state Medical Marijuana Control Division to oversee the system.

The downside to the Ohio legalization initiative — and yes, there ALWAYS seems to be a downside — is that it limits the number of growers to 15.

As the Columbus Dispatch observes,

Although the growers would not be investors who pay millions of dollars to buy into the program — a feature of the ResponsibleOhio plan that voters saw as a fatal flaw — the limit opens the door to criticism that the proposal could be a special-interest bonanza.”

Of course, there is a debate over all of this — and you should read the Columbus Dispatch story to get a sense of the arguments on both sides — my view is that this seems like a much more reasonable approach than what ResponsibleOhio was pushing last fall, and therefore a lot more likely to pass.

That doesn’t mean it WILL pass, just that this amendment seems less about the money and more about starting legalization in Ohio with a reasonable medical marijuana proposal that is more about helping people than about the marketers and sellers of marijuana getting rich from it in the Buckeye State.

Midwest values being what they are, this seems like a smarter and better way to approach legalization there, and offers a better chance to get through this November what they couldn’t get Ohio voters to swallow last Fall.

I’m guessing it will happen and that it will be yet another lesson on why, where marijuana is concerned, going slow and being reasonable at the start always seems to best the greedy, lets-make-a-lot-of-money approach.

Yes, slow and steady DOES usually win the race. Ohio will probably prove that to be true once again.

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