Ethan Nadelmann: Though Ohio's Issue 3 is progressive and may help end marijuana prohibition nationwide, it has its downside
Nadelmann: A major problem with the initiative is that it sets up an oligopoly, with commercial production limited to 10 sites owned by its backers
Editor’s Note: Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which seeks to promote alternatives to the war on drugs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
The only significant marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot this November is in Ohio.
Issue 3 is a first in many respects: the first marijuana reform campaign funded almost entirely by “investors” who would benefit financially from the initiative, the first initiative to restrict commercial production to a limited number of sites owned by the major investors in the ballot initiative, and the first to appear simultaneously on the ballot with another initiative – Issue 2 – that seeks to nullify the legalization initiative. If Issue 3 wins, it would make Ohio the first state to legalize marijuana without first legalizing it only for medical purposes.
Polling for Issue 3 shows a dead heat, but public opinion polls are notoriously unreliable in such low-turnout elections, so no one really has a good sense of what will happen on Election Day.
As executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, or DPA, which has played leadership or support roles in most medical and nonmedical marijuana legalization initiatives over the past two decades, I’ve been urged by diverse allies, both within Ohio and nationally, to endorse the initiative, and by others to oppose it. I’ve chosen to do neither, not just because my colleagues and I are torn, but also because I think DPA’s optimal role is to offer a well-reasoned assessment of what’s at stake with this initiative.