Battle over pot: Ohio lawmakers send anti-monopoly measure to fall ballot
COLUMBUS, Ohio — State lawmakers in Ohio have sent a proposal to the fall ballot that would ban constitutional monopolies, an effort with the potential to scuttle marijuana legalization in the state.
The amended measure flew through a Senate committee and both chambers over several hours Tuesday night.
The measure revises Ohio’s constitution to prohibit amendments that deliver commercial economic benefits to individuals and cartels. That includes investors in 10 designated marijuana-growing sites named in the legalization issue.
Its sponsors say the measure is necessary to protect Ohio’s constitution from well-funded private profiteering. Opponents say it strips voters of their decision-making power.
Pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio delivered its petition signatures to Ohio’s elections chief Tuesday.
ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James issued the following statement in response:
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising that some lawmakers put their own political interests in front of the will of the voters today. Despite earlier claims, lawmakers have made it clear that HJR 4 is all about marijuana. And their irresponsible and hasty attempts to rewrite HJR 4 more than a dozen times in a matter of hours show their total disregard for our state’s founding document.
“Lawmakers voted today to continue failed marijuana prohibition, further Ohio’s dangerous black market, deny compassionate care to Ohioans with debilitating chronic diseases, kill jobs and stop economic progress and take away the vote and voice of the people.
“But today we heard the collective voice of 695,273 Ohioans who very clearly want to have a mature conversation about marijuana legalization in our state. People who want the opportunity to decide in November. We’re excited to have this conversation with voters and believe people will reject any attack on our fundamental right to democracy.”