Editorial: What to do About Issue 2

If you haven’t voted yet today, read this, then go vote.

Any Ohioan who cares about politics, economics, getting high or any combination of the three is aware of the big vote today. Issue 3 is up, and — if passed — will legalize the sale of marijuana at 10 grow-sites and allow citizens to grow and possess a limited amount themselves.

Less talked about — but more important to the future of Ohioans’ power to influence the state — is Issue 2.

Introduced as a way to derail ResponsibleOhio’s plan to legalize marijuana, Issue 2 claims it will ensure “monopolies, oligopolies and cartels” are scrutinized by a review board before making it to the ballot. If an initiative is found to be in violation of the prohibitions set up by Issue 2, the initiative will be presented to voters through two questions.

The first question will likely ask, “Do you want to authorize a monopoly in the state of Ohio?”

The second will likely be a more narrow version of the first, relating to the specific monopoly under consideration.

This is a big deal. Not only will it force every citizen initiative before the bipartisan Ohio Ballot Board for review — a process that will add unnecessary delay to citizen introduced measures — but the guidelines determining whether or not a measure violates the prohibitions is irresponsibly robust.

Here’s the actual language you’ll find on the ballot:

“The proposed amendment would:

Prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit or to establish a preferential tax status.

Prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a commercial interest, right or license that is not available to similarly situated persons or nonpublic entities.

Require the bipartisan Ohio Ballot Board to determine if a proposed constitutional amendment violates the prohibitions above, and if it does, present two separate ballot questions to voters.

Both ballot questions must receive a majority yes vote before the proposed amendment could take effect.

Prohibit from taking effect any proposed constitutional amendment appearing on the Nov. 3, 2015 General Election ballot that creates a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel for the sale, distribution or other use of any federal Schedule I controlled substance.

The Ohio Supreme Court has original, exclusive jurisdiction in any action related to the proposal.

If passed, the amendment will become effective immediately.”

If Ohioans want to bring any initiative to vote, they will first have to face the Ohio Ballot Board.

Issue 2 won’t stop monopolies from getting to the ballot. It will stall them. It will make it more expensive. But it won’t stop them.

ResponsibleOhio’s PAC has already planned to spend $23 to $25 million dollars on their ballot initiative. They won’t be stopped by Issue 2, they’ll be annoyed.

Smaller citizen initiatives that don’t have a PAC raising millions of dollars for the cause or a dedicated staff of volunteers and marketers to keep their issue squarely in the public eye will be the wave that breaks against the wall of the Ohio Review Board.

A “yes” on 2 is effectively stripping Ohioans of their right to tell the government what it wants and receive a fair and timely opportunity to vote on their desires.

Now go out, vote whatever you believe concerning 3, but make sure you vote against 2.

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member.  The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the advisor does not have final approval.