Marijuana

Ohio Initiative's Cannabis Cartel Could Defeat Legalization

Pot prohibitionists appeal to libertarians by opposing economic privileges.

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Responsible Ohio

Backers of the marijuana legalization initiative that qualified for Ohio's 2015 ballot last week plan to challenge the official description of that measure, which they say is slanted against them. They have a point, but the biggest challenge they face is one they created: a cannabis cultivation cartel that alienates their natural supporters.

The Toledo Blade calls the ballot language, which was supported by the Ohio Ballot Board's three Republican members and opposed by the two Democrats, a victory for opponents of legalization. It's not hard to see why.

For example, Issue 3 generally bans marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet of churches, libraries, playgrounds, schools, and day care centers. It makes an exception for growers if those uses were established after January 1 of this year and for other cannabusinesses if they apply for licenses before the uses are established (which seems only fair, even if we assume these buffer zones make sense to begin with). The board-approved ballot language highlights the exceptions rather than the rule. Similarly, it emphasizes the limits that Issue 3 puts on local authority to regulate marijuana businesses.

The description also says adults 21 or older would be allowed to "purchase, grow, possess, use, transport and share over one-half pound of marijuana…at a time." The basis for this statement is the eight-ounce limit on homegrown marijuana, in addition to which people could legally buy and possess up to one ounce at a time. Calling the amount "over one-half pound" makes it sound as if there is no upper limit. Furthermore, there is a one-ounce limit on sales, noncommercial transfers, transportation, and public possession. A home grower arguably could give a friend more than an ounce, but the friend would not be allowed to take more than an ounce with him. Hence it is not true that Issue 3 lets people "purchase," "transport," or (for all practical purposes) "share" more than half a pound at a time. 

But one of the problems that Responsible Ohio, the group sponsoring Issue 3, sees in the ballot language is simply an accurate description of the initiative's worst feature. The board's first bullet point notes that Issue 3 would "endow exclusive rights for commercial marijuana growth, cultivation, and extraction to self-designated landowners who own 10 predetermined parcels of land" in 10 counties. It adds that "one additional location may be allowed for in four years."

According to the Blade, Responsible Ohio objects to this language because it suggests that Issue 3 "sets up a monopoly." But Issue 3 does set up a monopoly—or, to be more precise, a legally enforced oligopoly. This cannabis cultivation cartel, which consists of Issue 3's main financial supporters, is highly controversial even among supporters of legalization, and rightly so. That is not the fault of the Ohio Ballot Board, although its Republican members clearly thought playing up that aspect of the initiative would help turn voters against it.

Another way the initiative's backers could be defeated by their own greed: An initiative placed on the ballot by the state legislature says "the power of the initiative shall not be used to pass an amendment to this constitution that would grant or create a monopoly or a special interest, privilege, benefit, right, or license of an economic nature to any person, partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other nonpublic entity, or any combination thereof, however organized, that is not available to other similarly situated persons or entities at the time the amendment is scheduled to become effective." That initiative, like Issue 3, is a constitutional amendment, passage of which requires just a simple majority.

What happens if both amendments pass? It's not entirely clear. "The Ohio Constitution says if two conflicting amendments on the same ballot pass, the one that gets the most votes becomes law," the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. "But the constitution also says citizen-initiated amendments, such as the marijuana legalization amendment, become law 30 days after an election while legislature-sponsored amendments become law immediately." That suggets that if voters approve both initiatives, Issue 3 would be invalidated before it took effect. Just in case, anti-pot legislators added an amendment to the anti-monopoly initiative aimed squarely at Issue 3:

If, at the general election held on November 3, 2015, the electors approve a proposed constitutional amendment that conflicts with division (B)(1) of this section with regard to the creation of a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for the sale, distribution, or other use of any federal Schedule I controlled substance…that entire proposed constitutional amendment shall not take effect.

That language seems to be aimed at preventing the parts of Issue 3 that don't create economic privileges for particular people from taking effect. No doubt the issue would still end up in the courts. But this whole problem could have been avoided with a more open and competitive approach to legalization. If I lived in Ohio, I probably would hold my nose and vote for Issue 3 on the grounds that it's better than prohibition. But I also would find the anti-monopoly initiative very appealing, even knowing that it might block Issue 3. Opponents of legalization have cannily adopted a strategy that enlists libertarians in the cause of maintaining prohibition, which is possible only because of the misguided strategy adopted by supporters of legalization.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the Plain Dealer link.]

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  1. To the argumentative jerkwad with a chip on his shoulder who dropped by several months ago to berate posters about legalization vs. decriminalization: you were right.

    1. I think that what DC has now is about the best thing that is likely to happen with pot (simply removing criminal penalties, but not allowing commercialization). But it’s still a lot better to have it regulated more like alcohol, as stupid and awful as many of those regulations are, than criminalized.

  2. How is the cops showing up and arresting you for growing marijuana in your backyard because they want to protect the local cronies in the pot cartel any better than them showing up and arresting you because pot is illegal?

    1. Tables can be built lower now that money no longer need be passed underneath. This will aid in conservation of trees and reduced landfill usage from shorter table legs. On the downside, earthquakes will cause more injury as people won’t be able to duck under as many tables.

        1. Wut wut — was I not clear?

          Don’t be so cereal all the time.

            1. English, motherfucker. Do you speak it!

              /Bad Motherfucker OFF

    2. Civil liberties always trump economic liberties, John. Because slavery.

    3. Depends on what the penalties are, I guess. I think it is good that distilled spirits are legally available even though you can get arrested for having a still in your backyard. This initiative appears to allow some (non-commercial) home cultivation, so it’s not even as restrictive as liquor laws than ban home distilling.

      1. Home distilling isn’t entirely illegal. Don’t know what the laws in Ohio are on that front, however.

        1. I thought there was a federal ban on distilling spirits for human consumption without all the proper licensing, bonding, etc. A quick Google search seems to back that up.

          1. Alaska, for instance, excludes “private” manufacture of spirits from its alcohol control laws?except in quantities that exceed federal limits. In other words, Alaska allows zero liters for home distillers. Missouri is more explicit, asserting that “No person at least twenty-one years of age shall be required to obtain a license to manufacture intoxicating liquor?for personal or family use?.” Arizona expressly permits personal distilling of spirits such as brandy or whiskey if owners register their rigs with the state’s Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. According to DLLC, however, none has done so.

            But then I see this:

            While individuals of legal drinking age may produce wine or beer at home for personal or family use, Federal law strictly prohibits individuals from producing distilled spirits at home (see 26 United States Code (U.S.C.) 5042(a)(2) and 5053(e)). Producing distilled spirits at any place other than a TTB-qualified distilled spirits plant can expose you to Federal charges for serious offenses and lead to consequences including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

            http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/home-distilling.shtml

            Interesting. Considering you can purchase home distillation equipment on the intertubez.

            1. I haven’t looked into it for a while, but last I looked, the people selling stills suggest that they could be used for distilling water, essential oils or other non-beverage things. Sort of like all those people selling glass pipes “for use with tobacco or other legal smoking products”.

            2. There are regs but not controls. Theoretically anybody can do it legally, but it’ll cost you. You need to have a separate address for it that’s open to inspection, basically, rather than a residence. There’s no requirement you do it for profit, no limit on the # of licenses, and although you might be denied a license for some disqualifying reason, like you’re a convict (I don’t know all the rules), you’re still not forbidden to hire someone else to operate your facility who is eligible. Hell, you could even buy a controlling interest in Seagram’s.

              It’s all about taxes & assuring the convenience of the taxing authority. You have to cover their costs for finding out about you & collecting the right amt. of tax from you, as well as paying the tax itself. Specs on composition & labeling don’t come into play unless you’re selling the product.

    4. It’s better because people can buy pot legally from somebody. Maybe not from as many places as they’d like, & hence not as good value for $, but better than no legal choice at all. Better a monopoly than a zeropoly. Better duopoly than monopoly. Better triopoly, etc. It’s always about “more” as, uh…George Meany?…said. You take what you can get, then always try for more.

  3. One only needs to watch the reason Saves Cleveland series to know this is par for the course.

  4. Is this what the libertarian moment looks like?

    Putative advances in liberty (gay marriage, pot legalization) tainted by the expansion of the Total State (enhanced prosecution of protected class badthink, creation of crony cartels)?

    1. TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS.

    2. Law is justice.

      /Bizarro Bastiat

      1. How can a law be illegal?

        /duh

    3. No, the libertarian moment looks like the legalization of pot.

      The unnecessary crony capitalism being adopted just looks like the same old Republican party.

      No, the libertarian moment looks like equality under the law for gays.

      The unnecessary expansion of public accommodation law just looks like the same old Democratic party.

      Try to keep up.

      1. No, the libertarian moment looks like the legalization of pot.

        The unnecessary crony capitalism being adopted just looks like the same old Republican party.

        No, the libertarian moment looks like equality under the law for gays.

        The unnecessary expansion of public accommodation law just looks like the same old Democratic party.

        Try to keep up.

        I guess we have to decide how valuable (and large) these hidden gems are in the sea of regulatory and total state expansion.

        1. I have so little hope of any significant change in the scope of state and regulatory expansion that I don’t think it matters. I’m resigned to being a cynical observer for the most part.

          Anyway, it’s not as if libertarians could have chosen to reduce the regulatory state first before legalizing weed.

          1. I think there’s a knock-down-dragout coming on this ‘libertarian’ moment. Sorry to say, but I lean more RCs way on the subject.

            I think what we’re confusing is concepts of “choice” over “liberty”.

            There is absolutely no doubt that Americans and most people the world over enjoy a VASTLY greater array of choices in all areas of life than we did at any time in history. This is really self-evident.

            And, it’s also arguable that the choices we have do increase our freedoms in surprising ways.

            The problem as I see it, is this vast array of choices feel a bit like bread and circuses when viewed in the shadow of a largely corrupt leviathan.

            For instance, on this legal weed front, I now have the choice of purchasing my weed through a state-organized, protected ‘legal’ marijuana cartel, or buying it on the unsanctioned black market. More freedom? It’s hard to say.

            1. As I’ve said, I think “libertarian moment” oversells it a bit. We aren’t becoming a libertarian society. I wouldn’t trade economic freedom for some half-assed legalization of drugs, but that is one choice I am not being offered, so I’ll take what i can get.

              It is true that economic freedoms are among the most important ones and sadly this moment doesn’t include much positive on that front.

            2. I think what we’re confusing is concepts of “choice” over “liberty”.

              I’ve been struggling with this. I think there’s a lot of talking past each other because we lack a common definition of liberty.

              I think you are at liberty to do anything that government doesn’t prevent you from doing, and that doesn’t violate other people’s right to do the same.

              Others think liberty means anything you can do. Thus, your liberty expands whenever there are new opportunities.

              Here’s a couple of differences in these approaches:

              Under my definition, I am at liberty to buy a Bugatti Veyron. The fact that I can’t afford it doesn’t matter. However, because I can’t actually buy it, under the other definition I’m not really at liberty to buy one.

              Under my definition, I am not at liberty to carry concealed, because I have to ask permission first. Even if I have a permit, I am still not at liberty to carry concealed. Under the other definition, I am at liberty to carry concealed because I can get a permit to do so.

              That’s still not quite right, but that’s where my head is going.

              1. It’s similar to the positive/negative rights distinction. There is negative liberty which means you aren’t constrained from doing things and positive liberty which means you are able to do things.
                I think we can agree that the first is really the only one that government should be concerned with. But both are necessary to some degree for freedom or liberty to actually mean much to an individual. Liberty isn’t good for much if you don’t have different things you can choose to do.
                Of course, I also believe that negative liberty is the best way to create a society with lots of positive liberty and choice.

                1. That’s another take on it.

                  I’m trying to come up with something reasonably concise and intuitive.

                  Perhaps the difference between “capability” and “liberty”.

                  Just because I’m not capable of buying a Bugatti doesn’t mean I’m not at liberty or free to do so.

                  This doesn’t map over well to the “permit” problem, or the way “liberty” doesn’t encompass violating the rights of others.

              2. This reminds me of the Capital One commercial with Jennifer Garner talking about free miles. As part of the sales pitch she says

                1. What? What does she say?

                2. Fuck you reason. (ok, Jennifer didn’t say that)

                  She says something along the lines of “you can’t use your free miles because companies want more than you have”.

                  I always end up shouting at my TV “that’s not how it works you dumb bitch!” Not being able to afford something is not the same as being denied something. Unfortunately there are too many fucking idiots who think it’s the same.

                  1. Like all the people who think women are being denied access to birth control. Apparently that means they have to pay for it themselves.

                  2. yeah im still seeing articles saying that not forcing insurers to cover birth control is “denying access”. i understand this is just a difference of opinion between me and people who say stuff like that, but im pretty sure they’re wrong. if not making other people pay for something for you is denying you access, what would they call the current legal status of marijuana? (i know from personal experience it’s totally magic for chemotherapy. im still a bit confused why side effects like all your hair falling out and vomiting every morning are okay but being a little happier and more relaxed is intolerable)

              3. What if someone else prevents you from doing it? Are you at liberty just because the person preventing you doesn’t have a badge?

            3. 1 is greater than 0, isn’t it? How is that hard to say?

              What is liberty, other than the inverse of restriction of choices?

        2. I guess we have to decide how valuable (and large) these hidden gems are in the sea of regulatory and total state expansion.

          And whether, all in all, they are a net gain for liberty.

          1. That is a concern. But criminally sanctioning people for drugs is so abhorrent to me that it will take a lot of convincing for me to believe that it is not a net good, even if done badly.

            1. Its not obvious, to me, that setting up a cartel so that anyone who does business outside the cartel is subject to criminal sanction, is enough of an improvement to bother with.

              Because once they have the cartel, its highly, highly unlikely that it will ever go away. Its another “perfect is the enemy of the good” conundrum.

              1. We’ll see how it works out, I guess. But at this point it looks a lot like post-prohibition alcohol regulation where most states created stupid cartel-like systems for alcohol distribution and big penalties for selling untaxed/licensed liquor. I’m pretty sure that’s better than prohibition, as bad as it is.

                1. Yeah, probably.

                  A good legalization proposal, I would actually be motivated to support.

                  A shitty one like this, though . . . I got nothin’. If I happen to be voting anyway, I’d pull the lever for it. But I’m not going to give money to help it succeed, and I’m not going to go to the polls just to vote for it.

              2. Ah, but on the other hand, once they have the cartel, it’s highly unlikely the business will be made illegal again. Double-edged sword.

          2. And whether, all in all, they are a net gain for liberty.

            No, they are mutually exclusive.

            Legalizing drugs and/or SSM doesn’t require an expansion of the state. The legalization is VERY libertarian. The expansion of the state is coming from Republicans and Democrats and is not at all libertarian. The argument some are making, that one CAUSES the other, and we should forgo the liberty because it will CAUSE less overall liberty is complete and utter bullshit.

            It’s like saying we shouldn’t have abolished slavery because it will CAUSE public accommodation and protected classes. It’s nonsense.

            1. In isolation, yes, they are libertarian.

              The problem is, they don’t happen in isolation. They are packaged with other expansions of the Total State.

              Why should we ignore this context?

              1. They are packaged with other expansions of the Total State.

                No, they are certainly not. The state is allowed to package them together, because TEAMS. The state expansion has NOTHING to do with the libertarian legalization. The state expansion is coming from Republicans screaming about teh chilrenz.

  5. Perhaps the worst aspect of this “legalization” isn’t getting much mention: it would be terrible for people who can benefit from medical marijuana. Most of the progress that has been made in using marijuana as a medicine has resulted from the efforts of small private growers working directly with patients, breeding different strains with differing active constituents to get the most effect. Different breeds of weed can have very different levels of the many different active compounds, and by trial and error growers have begun to tailor plants to specific health conditions. That’s not going to happen in Ohio under the proposed amendment. The oligopoly will be motivated to produce weed that gives the best buzz, and anyone trying to use it for medicinal purposes will have no choice but the recreational grade weed offered by the cartel, which will be problematic to use because of the good buzz it will give, and less effective as medicine because the big growers will have no motivation to try to selectively breed for helpful compounds that might help with health conditions but don’t get you high.

  6. Ironically, Ohio established a similar cartel for casino gambling just a few years ago, with 4 cartel members. Weed lovers are trying the same gambit.

    I’ll be holding my nose and voting for the new cartel. But, WTF!

    1. I can understand the attraction there in softening opposition: “Yes, it legalizes something I think is bad, but it’ll be limited. Maybe better the business go to the few allowed than to the uncountable totally unregulated illegal entrepreneurs as currently.”

    2. I still go the next county over to buy my liquor rather than give my money to the crooks that set up the cartel that operates the now-legal liquor stores in my county. I realize that the liquor stores the next county over are almost as much a cartel, but they weren’t as goddamn blatant about the FYTWery as the ones in my county. As long as they get their cut they don’t much care who operates a liquor store, in my county they just flat-out said they were going to limit the number of stores because too much competition would cut into profits for the store owners. (The lucky store owners being close friends or relatives of the ‘they’, naturally.)

  7. Slow news day or what.

    The destinations on Lonely Planet’s ultimate travel list that you WON’T have heard about: World’s best bizarre attractions include a church of bones and NORTH KOREA

    Lonely Planet released a list of the 500 top tourist areas around the world with the Temples of Angkor in the lead
    The Great Barrier Reef, Machu Picchu, the British Museum and the Galapagos Islands were also in the top 20
    However, the full list also contained some bizarre and far less known attractions, including North Korea’s DMZ
    The Lonely Planet experts also recommended Chernobyl, Hitler’s bunker and an underwater sculpture park

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tra…..KOREA.html
    Pretty cool.

    1. How do you sculpt underwater? Or are the sculptures just underwater?

      1. How do you sculpt underwater?

        Mostly the same as out of the water, but slower.

        1. Is underwater the same as water water? Because I’ve found that water water is way too fluid to sculpt. Maybe it’s the compression that makes underwater sculptable.

          1. And then, how do you keep the sculptures together once you get them to the park?

      2. Um, yes?

  8. I just discovered I had confused the Coens with Wes Anderson. Anderson’s movies are overrated. The Royal Tenenbaums was almost intolerable. So consider this a retraction and mea culpa.

    O Brother was still massively overrated, though.

    1. Feels like you spilled your spittoon and got saggy bottoms, doesn’t it?

      1. No need for that, I’m working out regularly. It’s coming off!

    2. I bet you’re misceginated…not even old timey!

  9. Let’s fix ohio’s government all at once – they had the right idea, they just need to take it one step further:

    the power of the initiative or the State Legislature shall not be used to pass a law or amendment to this constitution that would grant or create a monopoly or a special interest, privilege, benefit, right, or license of an economic nature to any person, partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other nonpublic entity, or any combination thereof, however organized, that is not available to other similarly situated persons or entities at the time the amendment or law is scheduled to become effective.

  10. “endow exclusive rights for commercial marijuana growth, cultivation, and extraction to self-designated landowners who own 10 predetermined parcels of land” in 10 counties. It adds that “one additional location may be allowed for in four years.”

    Nice. And let me guess, the guy designing this system will quit in disgust when it gets overrun by lobbyists trying to make sure they’re in the winners column?

    1. The nascent industry seemed to change after stores opened last summer, he said. “With people hiring lobbyists, it shifted from ‘let’s do something exciting’ to like everything else in American society, ‘what can I get for me?

      http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..-moves-on/

      1. They’re trying to bail themselves out a nice dry spot in a boat that isn’t just sinking but already submerged. What do they think will happen to illegal suppliers who remain outside the narrowly circumscribed legal pasture they regulated into existence? If anything they guaranteed a vibrant economy in illegal pot.

        1. I believe we have some local playas here who still purchase their Washington weed on the unsanctioned market.

    2. Yes, the guy designing the system plans to quit in disgust in exactly 3 years, 11 months and 29 days. You’ll never believe what his new job is going to be!

  11. What Seven Hours of Waiting Will Get You in Venezuela

    http://blog.panampost.com/edit…..venezuela/

    Propaganda and famine.

    1. It’s all Reagan’s fault!

    2. At least there is no inequality (yes, the political class is rich, but they didn’t get rich by icky capitalism so it’s OK).

    3. Am Soc will be in defending it as soon as possible…

    4. You have to wait in line with us as well, but at least in the end you don’t pay as much.

      Well, if your money is worthless or you’ve no job I suppose your time is worthless, too.

      Idiot.

      1. You don’t pay as much, because it isn’t available. Since there isn’t any, you pay nothing, so it’s free! Behold the miracle of socialism!

  12. So I wonder how many gold futures Shrike bought this week?

    1. It’s a falling knife!

    2. I’m hoping shrike is up to his eyeballs in leveraged gold shorts, myself.

      I think the cracks are starting to show, and gold will benefit.

      Personally, though, I think the paper gold market is the most blatantly manipulated market in a very, very long time, and you’d be a fool to touch it. The paper price keeps crashing, even though physical supply is very short. Its actually in a state of “backwardation” right now, where near-term contracts price over longer-term contracts. About the only explanation for that is people are losing faith that any contract can take delivery, and they are pricing in performance risk. That’s a very, very bad sign in a futures market.

  13. Did the staff just decide to take the day off after the morning links or something?

      1. Well now there is a Subway Jared story. Pass. Give me more Trump!

    1. Hillary has a team doing some maintenance of the reason.com servers.

      1. The DOJ probably investigated Reason commenters more thoroughly than they’ll investigate her.

    1. Do they just sort of scissor or something?

      1. You BASTARD!

      2. Obviously. How else does teh robot get from one vagina to the other?

    2. Was any scissoring involved, if you know what I mean?

      1. What if science doesn’t enthusiastically consent?

        1. Meh. Science is a tool of the patriarchy, so nobody cares.

    3. Surgeons at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore last month successfully removed a donor’s healthy kidney through her vagina instead of through an incision in her abdomen. This is not the first time kidneys have been pulled from the body this way, but it is the first time such a procedure has been performed to remove a healthy organ.

      The kidney was removed from Kimberly Johnson, 48, of Lexington Park, Md., who donated it to her ailing 23-year-old niece, according to the Associated Press. Johnson is among the first patients in the world to receive “natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES),” a new procedure in which doctors remove organs and tissues through the body’s natural openings?the mouth, the anus and the vagina?instead of via ones created in the skin by a surgeon’s scalpel.

      That’s an article from 2009 I found when I Googled trying to figure out what the advantage is to making a complicated surgical procedure even more complicated. I assumed the trans-vaginal part of the operation was purely for cosmetic reasons – not leaving a big ugly scar – but it turns out there’s a theory that using a natural opening rather than a man-made one is healthier for the body. But there’s been no studies done on this issue and those words about ‘natural is healthier than man-made’ sound an awful lot like the speaker may have a big ol’ mouthful of granola.

      1. Maybe the advantage in not having to cut through the abdominal muscles. Doing that can cause problems with more than just the aesthetic appeal of your belly.

      2. there’s a theory that using a natural opening rather than a man-made one is healthier for the body.

        Its only a natural opening to a point. You still have to create a man-made opening. Just in a different place.

    4. World first as surgeons use a robot to perform a sister-to-sister kidney liver transplant through their vaginas.

      Old news.

  14. Limiting the field to 10 players is an oligopoly, not a monopoly. A monopoly is when there’s only one source, like the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, a major opponent of marijuana law reform.

  15. I am with Jacob on this one. I would vote yes on both measures. And if another pro-legalization issue were on the ballot then I’d vote for that as well.

  16. One of the economic controversies surrounding legalization, is will it benefit government or cost gov (for instance, see this reading list on the topic). With all this overwhelming regulation, it’s as if they’re actually trying to lose out.

  17. “I also would find the anti-monopoly initiative very appealing, even knowing that it might block Issue 3. Opponents of legalization have cannily adopted a strategy that enlists libertarians in the cause of maintaining prohibition, which is possible only because of the misguided strategy adopted by supporters of legalization.”

    How did this move get to be called the “anti-monopoly” initiative, when R.O. doesn’t create a monopoly? Actually, this is not far different from some legal medical marijuana states where growers are limited to a few people. This kind of legislation may be advisable or not, but rushed to the election just in time to negate the will of the majority of Ohio citizens stinks, and should not be allowed. In it’s intent, it would be better called the anti-voter initiative.

    Hopefully, the voters will see through this ruse.

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