Issue 3: not good for weed

While many are disappointed about Issue 3 not passing in Ohio, it’s actually a good thing.

The bill was written to create a pre-imposed monopoly on the cannabis industry, providing for only ten growers in the entire state. According to The Colorado Springs Gazette, there were 505 marijuana related stores throughout the Centennial State in 2014. Ohio wanted to avoid an oversaturation like some states on the east coast but its approach wasn’t necessarily the right one to take.

It isn’t technically a monopoly, because the very definition of the word means “one.” The term is “oligopoly” but the principle is the same: a small group controls the price, which would undoubtedly be higher than necessary because of the lack of competition in the market.

Essentially, the bill was drafted without the interests of the general community in mind while instead catering to interests of big business.

Of course, this is what the government wants, but not the point of marijuana legalization, part of which is to provide affordable, safe medical treatment to those in need. In light of the opioid issue, this is something the area needs, as medical marijuana could replace a significant number of opioid prescriptions for pain, potentially saving lives and costing less for consumers while putting less money in Big Pharma’s pockets.

Furthermore, legal recreational marijuana use could help police forces concentrate on real issues, like the country’s growing heroin problem, which is something that actually kills people and causes problems. But if it’s coming from an oligarchic structure, the people who can’t afford the inflated prices will still buy and sell weed on the black market, which will continue to distract police from the bigger issues at hand.

How should our neighboring state proceed? Baby steps. Introduce a medical-use only bill first, that’s how the states with legal recreational use started. Issue 3 would have introduced recreational marijuana and medical marijuana at the same exact time, something that no state in the United States has done yet; typically, medical marijuana legislation is introduced first and the vote for recreational marijuana is proposed depending on how medical marijuana works for the area.

With a simple medical marijuana bill, those who are opposed to the plant can dip their toes in the water and get a little bit more used to cannabis being in their areas. After that, Ohio lawmakers can test their bounds a little further and introduce a bill that could legalize recreational marijuana.