Ohio Might Legalize Weed...But There's a Catch
This November, Ohio might become the fifth, and largest, state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That sounds like great news, but something smells… a little dank. And not in a chill way. Here’s a list of the most important things you should know about the proposed measure, known as Issue 3.
Who will be able to smoke?
Once passed, Issue 3 will allow anyone aged 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of weed, and for a $50 license, be able to own up to “four flowering marijuana plants per household and up to 8 ounces of pot in their homes,” Vox reports. The law, however, will not permit the use of pot in public spaces. These restrictions are actually pretty typical of recreational pot legislation. However, Issue 3 is structured in a way that has even the most fervent supporters of legalization thinking twice.
Why are legalization supporters against it?
The main problem emerges when we consider how the law outlines the commercial production of marijuana. If the law is passed, the campaign’s top contributors will be automatically put in charge of all the pot production in Ohio, as a thank-you for their donations. This means that the state will only have ten pot farms, which will distribute to over a thousand medical dispensaries, retail outlets, and manufacturers.
Garnering support for a ballot measure is an expensive ordeal. ResponsibleOhio, the organization behind the measure, has predicted they will spend tens of millions of dollars on the legalization campaign, and help from big-name donors is practically unavoidable. Advocates of legalization oppose this, however, saying it will effectively create a pot oligopoly. “A business plan shouldn’t be written into the Constitution,” asserts Ohio auditor Dave Yost.
Why are drug policy experts against it?
Issue 3 will implement a low tax on marijuana, making it inexpensive and incredibly accessible. At the same token, the state’s main pot producers have an economic incentive to sell to those who use the most. According to a study of Colorado’s pot market, 87.1 percent of the state’s demand comes from its top 29.9 percent heaviest users. Drug policy experts against the measure argue that this would make weed too available, and rates of abuse are expected to rise.
What’s a better option?
Ohio currently doesn’t even allow the growth and distribution of medical marijuana, and so this law would be a huge step for the state, and could set a precedent for the whole country. However, recent surveys of students at Ohio universities show that support for recreational weed legalization is still really split—only 52 percent of voters are in favor of it, and even fewer are in support of Issue 3. 84 percent of voters, on the other hand, are in favor of medical legalization, and it’s been reported in Vox that the measure will be much more likely to pass if the voters focus on legalizing only medical instead of both medical and recreational.
In short, let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good. A law legalizing only medical marijuana is a smaller step for Ohio, but it will be much easier to pass. And in the meantime, it will hopefully give the state an opportunity to gain further support for recreational use, and to design a legalization measure that’s fair for stoners everywhere.
Images via Cannabis Now and Vox.