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.
"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.