Marijuana prohibition will not last, but the monopoly that issue 3 creates certainly will.
Call it a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel— the principal problem with issue 3 is that it puts 10 wealthy investors into the constitution of Ohio as the exclusive producers of commercial marijuana.
What’s worse is that there was no statewide bidding process for these growing rights.
Instead, the ten LLCs that invested in ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee (PAC) behind the ballot initiative, will operate the marijuana growing facilities. ResponsibleOhio required these investors to give $2 million dollar donations to the PAC.
These facilities would then sell their product to marijuana retail stores, which could only buy from these facilities. It’s also important to note that the amendment allows only 1,159 retail stores in the state of Ohio. The license to operate one of these retail stores is $10,000.
These changes might be palatable if ResponsibleOhio hadn’t elected to pursue a constitutional amendment rather than an initiated state statute.
The difference is that an initiated state statute would be more open to legislative changes than an initiated constitutional amendment. This constitutional amendment, if passed, would effectively cement a legal oligopoly into Ohio’s constitution. Future changes or repeals would be far more difficult to pass.
Supporters of the bill have claimed that the facilities cannot be considered a legal monopoly, and that the amendment would later allow for additional facilities.
While the bill does allow for one additional MGCE facility, it does so after four years, and only upon the approval from the Marijuana Commission. Only then can someone pay the $50,000 licensing fee to create their own MGCE facility.
While it would be easy to vote yes on Issue 3 and take our legal marijuana, do we really want a cartel ruling the marijuana production in Ohio?