By Keith Humphreys for The Week. Next week, Ohio voters will cast ballots on the Responsible Ohio marijuana legalization initiative. If it passes, the initiative will be historic not only for removing the prohibition against recreational marijuana use in the Buckeye State, but also for advancing the control of corporate interests over what was once an entirely grassroots movement to legalize pot.
The Ohio initiative, pushed by wealthy investors with no prior connection to marijuana activism, would grant its backers a permanent, lucrative oligopoly on marijuana cultivation in the state. The campaign ads for the initiative have offered the usual social justice-oriented arguments for legalization, but many long-term legalization proponents charge that the initiative’s true purpose is to enrich its sponsors.
After setting out that only 10 facilities in the entire state will be licensed to cultivate marijuana for sale, the text of the initiative lists the specific locations and parcels of lands where these facilities will be based. Those parcels are owned by the well-heeled sponsors of the initiative, including basketball legend Oscar Robertson and reality TV staple Nick Lachey.