By Kevin Drum for Mother Jones. Yesterday a friend emailed to ask if I had any thoughts about Ohio’s Issue 3, which would fully legalize marijuana cultivation and sale in the state. Ohio? I barely pay attention to California, let alone Ohio.
But Issue 3 turns out to be surprisingly fascinating—or venal and repellent, depending on your tolerance for sleaze. Apparently one of the authors of the initiative came across a Rand report on marijuana written by a bevy of drug-policy worthies, and it offered up a dozen possible options for legalization. One of them is called “structured oligopoly”:
It is natural to ask whether there is some way to get for-profit businesses to behave in the public interest. The answer is “Perhaps.”
….States might prefer  to offer only a limited number of licenses, creating artificial scarcity that makes the licenses valuable—valuable enough that firms will have a strong incentive to cooperate with regulators rather than risk revocation….Limiting the number of licensees also makes monitoring their behavior easier. A rogue company could more easily break the rules if it were one of 1,000 licensees