Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Libertarian Party Rejects ResponsibleOhio's Marijuana Legalization Plan

Cronyist was the word the plan's backers were looking for, not responsible.

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frankieleon/flickr

Last year, a group called ResponsibleOhio started working toward a plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio. They found wealthy backers, interested not just in the marijuana industry but in having a legalized monopoly on it. ResponsibleOhio's plan allowed for just ten, predetermined, commercial growing sites in the state. It's pretty naked cronyism, and the Libertarian Party of Ohio has rejected.

Cleveland.com reports:

"There is nothing 'responsible' about ResponsibleOhio," Libertarian Party of Ohio Political Director Tricia Sprankle said in a statement. "This isn't a proposal to restore rights to Ohioans. It's a crony scheme to line the pockets of a few wealthy investors."

The libertarians have supported legalization for more than 30 years but cannot support "the crony-capitalist nature" of the ResponsibleOhio plan, Sprankle said.

The Green Party also opposes a similar plan from a group calling itself Better for Ohio, which borrowed ResponsibleOhio's amendment language designating 10 grow sites but would allow others to buy into the commercial model.

While ResponsibleOhio's plan is pretty brazen, it doesn't follow all that far off from the model of legalization in the U.S. so far, which comes with taxes, regulations, and state licensed or even operated stores. The ability to regulate and control marijuana is one reason prohibitionists have to support it.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio is still considering whether to support the revised plan, which still includes an advantage for the first backers but allows others, eventually, to compete. It's an illustration of how governments work: what they can ban they can regulate and control, explicitly or through legalized monopolies. They do it with alcohol in places like Pennsylvania and Virginia. As calls to treat marijuana more like alcohol grow, we should consider whether to treat alcohol, and marijuana, more like cigarettes used to be, as a choice to buy, sell, or consume adults should be free to make for themselves.

The only other marijuana-related plan currently qualified to and collecting signatures to get on the ballot in November is from the Ohio Rights Group, and would permit only medical marijuana and industrial hemp farming. The Green Party supports that proposal.

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  1. ResponsibleOhio’s plan allowed for just ten, predetermined, commercial growing sites in the state

    So similar to Washington’s now active system.

    Which reminds me… a whole bunch of people are about to discover– the hard way– that when we said “legal marijuana” we didn’t mean some capitalistic free market.

    Between now and then, the city will seek to shut down certain medical dispensaries using enforcement priorities laid out in the mayor’s plan. Among those priorities is an intention to target dispensaries didn’t have city business licenses by January 1, 2013. That describes 54 dispensaries in the city, according to the mayor’s office, meaning those are likely to get shut down soon.

  2. But granting monopolies to well-connected cronies works so well with gambling. The cronies make money, the people get fleeced. What’s the objection to doing the same thing with dope? Grow up, losertarians.

    1. Can you imagine what would happen if people smoked dope in unapproved places, sold by unapproved merchants, for unapproved prices? Why, it would be chaos, man! The end of the world!

      1. It would be like the WILD WEST, that horrifying era of libertarianism run amok!

      2. I need a Poe’s Law clarification: You do realize that you’re describing the current retail distribution chain for all but a small percentage of cannabis sold for personal enjoyment in the US, don’t you?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe‘s_law

    2. There was a time when this kind of behavior was largely the stuff of Pappy O’Daniel, mostly occurring quietly in back rooms, but now it’s considered enlightened policy– and you can find progressives everywhere not only defending it, but crafting it.

  3. To the extent that the problem isn’t with “people not being allowed to buy/sell/smoke pot” but with “throwing people in prison for buying/selling/smoking pot”, I support this solution.

    The best solution would have nobody thrown in jail… but the state turning its eye primarily to sellers is not worse than the status quo.

    1. Well, yeah, its better than a complete black market.

      But its a lot worse than a non-crony market.

  4. Ohio did the exact same thing with Gambling. Straight up cronyism. I didn’t vote for it for that reason. I think I will hold my nose and vote for the MJ bill though. I thing once that cat is out of the bag it will be all over. I can see holding out though.

  5. Do the people opposing it because it’s not good enough think that if it’s rejected, they’ll soon get something better, while if it’s accepted, they would not?

    Do you think if casino gambling with its current controls had been rejected, today you’d have more legal gambling? Or less? I think you’d have less.

    I’m trying to think of an example wherein a little more freedom was rejected, & then a lot more freedom was accepted.

    1. I’m sort of on the fence about this. On one hand, it IS better than outright prohibition, and it might let people see that having marijuana (more or less) freely available does not in fact lead to the overnight collapse of society. But on the other hand, this cronyist bullshit might make people complacent and unmotivated to push for more liberty with regards to marijuana since most people will believe that marijuana is now completely legal.

  6. My thought is that we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    California’s voters approved Proposition 215 now known as the Compassionate Use Act in 1996
    thanks in large part to the efforts of Zonker Harris. Of course Mr. Harris never would have been so effective if the California Attorney General hadn’t been suckered into a debate with a cartoon character. It really was bizarre in California during that campaign. I’ll wager dollars to dirt that there were a not insignificant number of voters who changed their intended vote because of Mr. Lundgren being unable to differentiate between human beings and cartoon characters.

    In the US in the past we’ve also had an ongoing retail distribution chain of perfectly legal cannabis intended for enjoyment that had lasted for decades. That was in the last half of the 19th century. The market was such a non-issue that most people don’t have a clue that it existed. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can read a first hand account of that market in a book titled “The Hasheesh Eater” which was written by Fitz Hugh Ludlow and first published in 1857. It’s even free on the ‘net: http://sniggle.net/Hasheesh/index.html
    —————————-
    I’d have to read the Ohio law before taking a position. Responsible Ohio is asserting that their ballot initiative has language that permits the number of licenses to cultivate to increase and are not reserved for their cronies.

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