Politics is a messy business, and I think that can be especially true when it comes to marijuana politics. I’ve seen a lot of things since I co-founded this blog in January 2010 in the world of marijuana politics, a lot of which makes me very sad. In a perfect world, everyone would work together to achieve the overall goal of ending marijuana prohibition. However, it’s fairly rare that everyone can agree about the details, which leads to a lot of tension and fracturing. That tension and fracturing has led to a lot of defeats that didn’t need to happen in the marijuana reform movement.
Ohio is about a contentious place for marijuana politics as it gets these days. The contention started when ResponsibleOhio launched its legalization campaign and proposed giving the monopoly on marijuana cultivation to just ten entities. That provision of their initiative resulted in a lot of backlash from the marijuana community, including from national organizations that typically provide a lot of funding for marijuana reform efforts. It’s worth noting that the campaign has since revamped the initiative language to include a home cultivation provision, but only if people receive a license to do so. It’s unclear what will be required in order to receive a home cultivation license.
There is another organization, Ohio Rights Group, that has been fighting to reform Ohio’s outdated marijuana laws. The Ohio Rights Group filed an official complaint against the ResponsibleOhio campaign alleging sabotage. Late last week that complaint was officially dismissed. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
The Ohio Rights Group (ORG), which filed the complaint last monthagainst ResponsibleOhio, charged that ResponsibleOhio deliberately tried to sabotage its efforts to get a ballot measure before voters. But the commission, while at least one board member expressed sympathy for ORG, voted 6-0 to dismiss the case because it “lacked the authority to rule in the matter,” according to Cincinnati.com.
ORG contended that ResponsibleOhio leader Ian James had infiltrated its group to steal donors and key backers before going on to found ResponsibleOhio, and that James’ actions undercut ORG’s ability to qualify for the ballot this year. James called the complaint “frivolous” in a press release, and lauded the commission’s decision.
I, like many other reform activists, will be watching the situation in Ohio. I’m curious to see how the ResponsibleOhio campaign ends up. They have pretty much decided to go it alone without the help of reform organizations and prominent activists, which would be a first if they succeed at the ballot box. People fear a corporate takeover of marijuana, both opponents and supporters, and this initiative will be the poster child for that fear going forward I’d imagine.