Legalizing weed is a great idea: fewer arrests and incarcerations, smaller prison population, more tax revenue, less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Also, in Ohio, it will make Nick Lachey a big fat pile of money.
Lachey is one of a small group of investors who stand to benefit if the Buckeye State passes a ballot measure today that would simultaneously legalize pot and create an effective monopoly on growing it in the state. Unlike any previous legalization efforts, Ohio’s ballot issue 3 specifies that a group of 10 farmers would have exclusive rights to weed farming—and it was financially backed chiefly by those same farmers and their wealthy investors, including Lachey and NBA hall-of-famer Oscar Robertson. (ResponsibleOhio is also the first well-funded pro-legalization group to feature an anthropomorphized dank nug as a mascot, as far as we know.)
In other words, the ballot iniative creates a marijuana cartel, which presents something of a dilemma for earnest young lefties: on the one hand, you’re legalizing pot. Great! On the other, you’re handing complete control of the industry to a cabal of politically manipulative rich guys from the get-go. Bad! Pot activists, understandably, are split.
Theoretically, there is a third option: ballot issue two, known as the Ohio Initiated Monopolies Amendment, meant to protect “the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit.” If voted in today, it would create a new amendment to the state’s constitution barring the creation of oligopolies like the weed growers group. Issue two doesn’t mention marijuana specifically, but it was created specifically to block the passage of issue three on the grounds that the state shouldn’t allow these investors to write laws specifically designed to make them wealthier. If issue two is passed, it will nullify issue three
So, if Ohians vote yes on three and no on two, weed is legalized and Nick Lachey gets rich. If they vote no on both, pot stays outlawed and Lachey keeps living off of that sweet Newlyweds money. If they vote no on three and yes on two, pot stay outlawed, get-rich schemes like ResponsibleOhio are outlawed too, and Lachey keeps living off of Newlyweds. If they vote yes on both, that’s trickier: citizens have signaled that they want to legalize, but they’re not willing to do it under these particular circumstances. Most watchers agree that would lead to the backers of issue three challenging issue two in court. It’s unclear what would happen next.
For now, if Ohio’s stoners want to toke without worrying about the possibility of arrest, they’ve got to head down to hell and make a deal with the devil. The temperature is 98 degrees and rising.