In Ohio last week, a group calling itself ResponsibleOhio filed 695,273 petition signatures with the Secretary of State’s office in an effort to place a cannabis legalization initiative on the November 2015 ballot, but board of elections inspectors found as many as half of the signatures were not valid for a variety of reasons.  The Secretary of State advised the ResponsibleOhio campaign that it needed to collect 29,509 more valid signatures before 11:59 PM on July, 31 to qualify for the statewide ballot in November, and a spokesperson for the campaign has vowed to gather the requisite number of signatures by the deadline, but on July, 29 Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted named a special investigator to review “significant disparities” in the signatures ResponsibleOhio submitted, and if evidence of fraud is found, criminal charges could be filed against initiative organizers or the company hired to collect the signatures, The Strategy Network.

If the ResponsibleOhio initiative were to be made law, adults would be permitted to cultivate up to four cannabis plants, and the state would issue and maintain as many as 1,000 retail dispensary licenses, but under the ResponsibleOhio plan there would only be ten licensed commercial grow facilities for the entire state, a move the Rand Corporation described as a “structured oligopoly.”  Keith Stroup, Legal Counsel for NORML, describes the plan to limit grow and production facilities to 10 locations in a recent blog post:

“But what is unique about this effort is that it is being funded by a few rich private investors who, under the terms of the proposed initiative, would then own the 10 specific cultivation centers around the state authorized to cultivate marijuana commercially. In other words, those investors who provide the funding to gather the required number of signatures, and to run a professional statewide campaign, would be richly rewarded for their investment, assuming the initiative is approved by a majority of the voters.”

Mr. Stroup adds that no one should be surprised that people will become wealthy from legal cannabis and that NORML would likely support the ResponsibleOhio measure should it make the ballot in 2015.  In his post Mr. Stroup reminds us that NORML is a cannabis rights group and must leave issues of wealth distribution to others; but for a group calling itself Ohioans to End Prohibition, the monopoly on commercial grow sites is unacceptable, and a highly organized team is now gathering the 306,000 signatures needed to place a cannabis legalization initiative on the ballot in November, 2016.

The Ohioans to End Prohibition initiative would allow individuals to grow 6 plants and medical patients up to 12, and in pointed contrast to the ResponsibleOhio measure, organizers take an interesting free market approach to participation in the legal industry as a way to undermine illegal markets by allowing broader access to commercial grower and producer licenses.

But looking ahead, should both constitutional amendments make it to the ballot and win majority voter approval in successive years, courts will likely decide which set of cannabis rules will be the law of the land …

To learn more, Brian Bahouth spoke with President of Ohioans to End Prohibition, Sri Kavuru and files this report … a mix of words and music … (21:48) …

 

 

Music credits as reported through the Public Radio Exchange, in order of appearance:

Title: Modo
Artist: Sounds From the Ground
Album: High Rising
Label: Waveform
Date: 2006
Duration: (4:10)

Title: Terra Unfirma
Artist: Tommy Guerrero
Album: Soul Food Taqueria
Label: Mo’ Wax
Date: 2003
Duration: (1:08)

Title: Bullfights On Broadway
Artist: Tommy Guerrero
Album: Lifeboats and Follies
Label: Galaxia Records
Date: 2011
Duration: (1:57)

Title: Tatanka
Artist: Tommy Guerrero
Album: Soul Food Taqueria
Label: Mo’ Wax
Date: 2003
Duration: (2:38)

Title: Rotorblade
Artist: Sounds From the Ground
Album: High Rising
Label: Waveform
Date: 2006
Duration: (2:27)

Title: Boss on the Boat
Artist: Tosca
Album: Suzuki
Label: K7
Date: 2000
Duration: (1:15)

Title: Riding On The Tip
Artist: Spaceways
Album: Trip Hop & Jazz 4
Label: Instinct Records
Date: 1998
Duration: (:49)