Ohioans Reject Monopoly, Not Marijuana Reform, Say Libertarians

Bob Bridges, Chair, LPO

via LPO.org:

COLUMBUS (Thursday, Nov. 5)—Ohio voters rejected Issue 3 because they didn’t want a small cartel of already-rich, well-connected operators to make millions by controlling Ohioans’ personal freedom and urgent medical needs, said the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Ohio.

“Some of the media has this story a little bit wrong,” said LPO Executive Committee Chairman Bob Bridges. “A lot of headlines are focusing on the pot, when for most Ohioans, the real issue was the pot of gold the investors would reap. Issue 3 was much more about who could sell cannabis than about who could buy it, or who could use it to treat medical problems for themselves and their children.”

“The Issue 3 cartel badly misjudged the voters,” said Bridges. “They thought we would overlook the cronyism to get the cannabis. They were wrong.”

Ohio voters rejected Issue 3 Tuesday by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent, mainly because they opposed the proposed legal drug cartel—created and backed by the State of Ohio—not because of opposition to ending marijuana prohibition or to allowing Ohio citizens the right to choose medical cannabis for themselves and their children, said Bridges.

Bridges added that polling shows strong support for legal cannabis among Ohio voters, noting a Quinnipiac poll just weeks before the election that showed that Ohioans favor the right to choose medical cannabis by a margin of 9 to 1, and that almost half of Ohio voters support re-legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

“Cannabis prohibition is less popular in Ohio every day, and the Libertarian Party is going to continue to help lead the fight for an end to cannabis prohibition as we always have,” said Bridges.

Bridges says he was very encouraged by the grass-roots activism in support of Issue 3, and commended the efforts of the hundreds of activists who were sincerely working in the best interests of all Ohioans.

“A lot of great people—many of whom are themselves Libertarians—were confused, or even upset, about our official opposition to Issue 3, and we worked hard to explain why,” Bridges said. “We understand why many people decided that a significant rollback of marijuana prohibition was more important that stopping crony capitalism, and we’re already working on bringing together everyone who is fighting marijuana prohibition to find a better way to accomplish it as soon as possible.”

Bridges, who is also a registered lobbyist who is well regarded by both Republicans and Democrats in the Statehouse, is spearheading an effort to get a medical cannabis bill before the legislature immediately. “Compassionate use is now low-hanging fruit if we all tell our representatives what we want,” Bridges said. “This is something Issue 3 supporters and many Issue 3 opponents can agree on and work together to achieve.”

The Libertarian Party of Ohio is the third largest political party in the state, and has supported the re-legalization of marijuana since its founding in 1972. The LPO Executive Committee unanimously voted to oppose Issue 3 in March 2015.

For more information:

Aaron Keith Harris
LPO Communications Director
aaron.harris@lpo.org
937-825-0204

28 thoughts on “Ohioans Reject Monopoly, Not Marijuana Reform, Say Libertarians

  1. Dave

    Honestly I think it was a bit of both. This lost by 30%. And there was another issue on the ballot that would have banned monopolies which passed fairly easily, so had this passed I’m not even sure what the final outcome would have been. Probably an extended court case.

    That being said, I probably would have voted against 3 and waited until the monopoly language was taken out. Like gay marriage, I expect that legalization will be able to pass in most states through referendum within the decade.

  2. paulie

    I would have voted yes. As bad as it was it’s better than the status quo, and real people would have been kept out of jail and the lifelong stigma of criminal records. Nevertheless, now that it has gone down in flames, the silver lining is that a better initiative can now happen, hopefully soon – ideally next year if it’s not against the rules governing initiatives there. I agree that the no votes had a mix of motives, some better than others. It’s also better to shoot for a higher turnout election. I also agree with you about the timeline prognosis and the guess about what would have happened if both 2 and 3 passed.

  3. Andy Craig Post author

    I would have still voted yes, because prohibition and incarceration is by far the greater evil. I don’t like the way the 21st Amendment gave states an unfortunate plenary power over alcohol, that has also been used to establish cartels and monopolies, but I wouldn’t support the 18th Amendment as the alternative. I think this was a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good, as objectionable and stupid as Issue 3’s cartel was.

    Having said that, it’s better this go down in a flaming defeat that can be blamed on the cronyism, vs. a “clean” MPP initiative going down to a narrower 47-53 defeat, which would have been the likely outcome. That’s why national legalization groups opposed putting it on the ballot, in any form, in Ohio this year. By being such a bad bill, that was defeated by such a large margin, it’s much easier to write off as not part of the national trend.

  4. Andy Craig Post author

    Issue 2, and the ballot description of Issue 3 that heavily emphasized the cartel monopoly, might have ended up being an unintentional gift from Ohio Republicans to national legalization advocates. It’s a lot easier for them to make the case LPO does in the headline now.

  5. Deran

    Yes, it was a horribly drafted bill. But I also would have voted yes. To keep people outvof jail, out of the thrall of the legal system and out of the hands of the cops.

    The OH Green Party opposed 3 officially, and from what I understand, that has caused some serious divides in the party. With the urban African American Greens supporting and the white petit bourgeois members generally opposing. I think the divide in the Greens was along race and class lines.

  6. Andy Craig Post author

    “The OH Green Party opposed 3 officially, and from what I understand, that has caused some serious divides in the party. With the urban African American Greens supporting and the white petit bourgeois members generally opposing. I think the divide in the Greens was along race and class lines.”

    Interesting, but not surprising, that it would break down that way, with those least likely to be arrested least concerned about ending arrests.

  7. steve m

    I would have voted NO! For the reason that we should not allow the authoritarians and their keeping of hostages to drive our political goals. We want the government out of the marketplace and not owning it.

  8. paulie

    Well, yeah. But in the meantime people go to jail and have their lives screwed up with criminal records. That’s a really bad trade.

  9. steve m

    put a proposition on the ballot that requires all state government prisoners of the drug war to be released

  10. paulie

    It’s not easy to put a proposition on the ballot in Ohio, it’s not easy to pass it, and in the meantime more real people will have real lives ruined. That’s no small thing, even if we pass a better prop next year.

  11. Starchild

    I would have voted no, and am glad the phony legalization measure in Ohio was defeated. My reasons are as follows:

    (1) Public attitudes toward marijuana are improving, so the chances of soon getting relief for the people having their lives ruined by government’s war on a plant and those who use it, either with a better ballot measure or from another direction, such as the legislature or the courts, seem fairly good.

    (2) This measure would not have freed anyone currently incarcerated for marijuana or pardoned anyone living with a marijuana-related conviction. By legalizing marijuana for recreational use, the measure might in fact have decreased the pressure for reform and thus dimmed the chances of getting a better measure passed in the future that actually would provide relief for such individuals and their families.

    (3) If a measure like this passed it could have become very hard to undo, because the beneficiaries of the crony monopolist scheme would soon be raking in the dough and have plenty of resources to pour into defeating any future attempt to enact more equitable reform.

    (4) The defeat of Issue 3 sends a strong deterrent message to people writing marijuana reform measures in other states, that not just anything with the name “legalization” attached to it is going to fly, and that if they want voters to back a proposal, they had better do it right.

  12. steve m

    You aren’t freeing people if you are still restricting their freedoms. There was nothing in this proposal that eliminated past convictions. There was a lot in this proposal that restricted their future freedoms.

  13. Starchild

    Further note: I am on a listserve that has among its subscribers a lot of movers and shakers in the cannabis reform movement, and the posts there are weighing heavily in favor of cheering the fact that Ohio voters rejected this self-serving measure.

  14. paulie

    This measure would not have freed anyone currently incarcerated for marijuana or pardoned anyone living with a marijuana-related conviction

    It would have stopped the people who will get incarcerated between now and whenever a better initiative finally does pass from being incarcerated and getting a criminal record. Which, in many cases, also means losing their homes, families, children, jobs, relationships, professional licenses, careers, etc. In a few cases it can mean death.

    If a measure like this passed it could have become very hard to undo, because the beneficiaries of the crony monopolist scheme would soon be raking in the dough and have plenty of resources to pour into defeating any future attempt to enact more equitable reform.

    Given that the anti-monopoly initiative also passed, one possible result had this one passed as well would have been that the good parts of it would have been enacted while the bad parts would not have been. But even if what you say is true it still would not outweigh the suffering of the people being incarcerated in the meantime.

    The defeat of Issue 3 sends a strong deterrent message to people writing marijuana reform measures in other states, that not just anything with the name “legalization” attached to it is going to fly, and that if they want voters to back a proposal, they had better do it right.

    Legalization groups are already notoriously factionalized and splintered. I don’t think they need a lot of help in that department.

  15. steve m

    I actually like that the fucking anti libertarian governor of Ohio is now running for the Republican nomination for President of the US with a tail wind of being anti legalization of marijuana. Now is Kasich going to be upset that Ohio won’t have a monopoly for marijuana or is he going to be happy that the prison guard union will continue to have a reason to enjoy higher employment?

  16. paulie

    Now is Kasich going to be upset that Ohio won’t have a monopoly for marijuana

    No, since he was against the initiative.

    or is he going to be happy that the prison guard union will continue to have a reason to enjoy higher employment?

    I don’t think he cares about that per se. He would probably prefer that prison guards not be unionized. I haven’t actually asked him about that though.

  17. steve m

    So I guess in the far outside chance that Kasich gets the Republican nomination he wont expect California to swing his way?

  18. steve m

    If it isn’t clear…. I want the Republican candidate to be running against Legalization of pot, against gay marriage and against abortion.

    It wouldn’t hurt if the democratic candidate also was against these.

  19. Thor

    My longtime friend from Ohio voted against this bill because he enjoys smoking pot illegally. He says it gives him a rush. I wouldn’t know since I have never partaken.

  20. paulie

    Well, how considerate of your friend to vote to put other people in jail because he gets a “thrill”. While there were some good reasons to vote no mentioned above, which as I explained I believe are outweighed by the reasons to vote yes, that has got to be the single stupidest one I ever heard.

    BTW, I suspect you are Nathan Norman, but I don’t know yet. We’ll see if the telltale signs become more apparent with time.

  21. Motherhood; Apple Pie, Fireworks on 4th of July

    There’s just one answer now: If the LP doesn’t want to be a laughing stock, then Ohio Libertarians need to be the sponsors of a 100% Libertarian effort to end all regulation and control of cannabis in Ohio. It has to be as good or better than the Colorado effort, and it has to allow every adult to grow as many plants as they like.

    They then need video ads for their candidates that truthfully say, “I’m a libertarian, and I’m against crony capitalism, because it isn’t really capitalism. The previous marijuana legalization effort in 2015 would have only allowed a select few to have an enforced monopoly on growing marijuana. We don’t tolerate this with regard to alcohol: there are thousands of small breweries across America, many right here in Ohio. Therefore, we, the libertarians are putting a proper marijuana legalization effort on the ballot for the 2016 or 2017 election.”

    They need to run this effort with good production values, and it needs to win.

    If they can’t do this, then they have simply assisted the perpetuation of the police state.

    Why? Because if marijuana is legal for anyone, the monopoly can be more easily challenged. If it’s legal for no-one, it is difficult to challenge, since the principle of prohibition itself hasn’t been challenged. Granted, Marc Stevens has already challenged the principle of prohibition successfully, but that’s on a case-by-case basis.

    Dick Randolph showed us all how intelligent it was to use the initiative process to “piggy-back” Libertarian candidacies on popular single issues, when he abolished and outlawed a planned State Income tax in Alaska. Al Anders simultaneously registered more than 9,000 new Libertarians in Alaska during the ballot access circulation for the 2000 marijuana legalization initiative.

    So, the ball is in your court, Ohio Libertarians. You can step up and be heroes, or step down and be typical losertarians.

    Your actions have placed the onus on you to “do something” about the current situation, rather than just saying something about the current situation. Why? Because you helped shoot down a 45% improvement that carried with it a 30% unrelated negative. Maybe you were right to do this.

    The next few Ohio elections will reveal whether this is the case.

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