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Lawmakers put anti-monopoly amendment on November ballot

Lawmakers put anti-monopoly amendment on November ballot

614now Staff

On the day that the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio delivered its petition signatures to the secretary of state in hopes of making the November ballot, the state legislature approved an idea of their own for the election…a proposed constitutional amendment that would gut part of the pro-pot proposal. The legislature’s idea, if put in place, would eliminate the portion of passed measures deemed as constituting a monopoly. In the case of ResponsibleOhio’s plan, lawmakers say that would mean cutting the aspect of limiting marijuana farm licenses to a ten already-determined individuals or groups. ResponsibleOhio says that calling that part of their proposal a “monopoly”is inaccurate. They say that the legislature is trying to limit the rights of the Ohio voter.  (jj)

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Previous: ResponsibleOhio: ‘lawmakers trying to limit voting rights’ on pot proposal 6/25/15

The Ohio House on Wednesday gave its approval to a proposal that could cause trouble for the folks behind a pro-legalization marijuana initiative. ResponsibleOhio’s state constitutional amendment that they want to put in front of voters would legalize medical marijuana for the chronically ill and for personal use for people over the age of 21. A Marijuana Control Commission would be established that would license ten farms around the state to grow pot. The farms have already been purchased and they are owned by investors or groups who back the ResponsibleOhio effort. 1,100 other licenses would be given out for the testing, producing and selling of marijuana. Lawmakers call the limiting of those ten licensed farms a monopoly and they say that the way things are set-up with the proposal, passage would give certain property rights to specific people…and they don’t want that in the constitution.

The proposal that passed the House this week would put another proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot that, if approved by voters, could strip the so-called monopoly aspect out of the ResponsibleOhio plan. If both ballot initiatives are approved by voters, the one that receives the most “yes” votes is the one that prevails. Essentially, the House proposal, if passed by enough voters, would cancel out the already-designated farm license portion of ResponsibleOhio’s proposal if it gets passed by voters. And if ResponsibleOhio’s measure garners more “yes” votes, then it would carry the day.

For its part, ResponsibleOhio says that calling part of their proposal a monopoly is wrong. They says that anyone could open a marijuana retail store and that any individual over the age of 21 could grow as many as four plants for their own personal use. ResponsibleOhio says that lawmakers are trying to prevent voters from having the final say. From Facebook:

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The House’s proposed amendment now moves on to the Ohio Senate.  (jj)

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Previous:Lawmakers step into path of group trying to legalize pot 6/16/15

ResponsibleOhio is continuing to collect signatures to get their marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot. They say that they already have more than enough signatures, but they’re really trying to be overachievers in this regard. Their proposed state constitutional amendment, in a nutshell, would legalize medical marijuana for the chronically ill and for personal use for people over the age of 21. A Marijuana Control Commission would be established and it would license ten farms around the state to grow pot. The farms have already been purchased and they are owned by investors or groups who back the ResponsibleOhio effort. 1,100 other licenses would be given out for the testing, producing and selling of marijuana. But it’s those ten growing licenses that are at issue and at which state lawmakers appear to be taking aim.

State Reps. Ryan Smith (R) and Mike Curtin (D)  have put forward a notion that they want voters to consider on the November ballot as well. Their resolution would “prohibit an initiated constitutional amendment that would grant a monopoly or a special economic interest, privilege, benefit, right, or license to any person or entity and to modify the procedure to propose a law or a constitutional amendment by initiative petition.” Lawmakers say proposals like the one from ResponsibleOhio would put special benefits or property rights for select individuals into the constitution. (In this case, we would be talking about the already-determined individuals / groups who would receive those licenses to farm marijuana.)

So what happens if the lawmakers’ proposal and the ResponsibleOhio proposal both make the ballot and voters pass both of them? A rarely cited Ohio law would come into play that says that if conflicting ballot initiatives are approved by voters, the one that receives the most “yes” votes is the one that prevails. Essentially, the Bidwell / Curtin proposal, if passed by enough voters, would cancel out the already-designated farm license portion of ResponsibleOhio’s proposal if it gets passed by voters. And vice-versa.

I feel like this whole thing that was already pretty interesting just got a lot more interesting.  (jj)

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