ResponsibleOhio’s plan to legalize marijuana through a limited number of commercial growers is being criticized by two staunch supporters of marijuana legalization — the Green Party of Ohio and Libertarian Party of Ohio.
The two groups join grassroots pro-pot groups in opposing ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would legalize marijuana for medical and personal use but limit commercial growing to 10 predetermined sites promised to wealthy campaign backers. ResponsibleOhio plans to put its constitutional amendment before Ohio voters in November.
“There is nothing ‘responsible’ about ResponsibleOhio,” Libertarian Party of Ohio Political Director Tricia Sprankle said in a statement. “This isn’t a proposal to restore rights to Ohioans. It’s a crony scheme to line the pockets of a few wealthy investors.”
The libertarians have supported legalization for more than 30 years but cannot support “the crony-capitalist nature” of the ResponsibleOhio plan, Sprankle said.
The Green Party also opposes a similar plan from a group calling itself Better for Ohio, which borrowed ResponsibleOhio’s amendment language designating 10 grow sites but would allow others to buy into the commercial model.
In a news release, Green Party of Ohio Co-Chair Bob Fitrakis said the plans would be “exchanging an illegal cartel, for a legal one, representing the worst of cannabis capitalism.” Fitrakis has been a member of the petitioning committee for Ohio Rights Group, which is pushing a competing proposal.
In addition to decriminalizing medical and personal use, the Green Party supports releasing Ohioans serving time for marijuana possession, expunging records of those incarcerated for marijuana offenses and legalizing industrial hemp farming.
Those three changes are not among those made in the ResponsibleOhio and Better for Ohio amendments.
ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander said her group’s proposal will create “a tightly regulated legal industry” for marijuana.
“Ohioans from all sides of the political spectrum know that marijuana prohibition has failed, and they’re eager to reform these bad laws,” Bolander said in an email. “Legalizing marijuana under our plan will enhance public safety, create jobs and bring much-needed revenue to our communities.”
Ohio’s Republican statewide elected officials opposed the ResponsibleOhio plan earlier this year in part because it would grant a “constitutional monopoly” on growing pot in Ohio.
At least three other groups have proposed marijuana legalization plans that do not specify commercial grow sites:
- Ohio Rights Group would legalize marijuana for medical use and allow industrial hemp farming.
- Ohioans to End Prohibition would allow the market to determine growth and sales of marijuana according to a newly created Division of Marijuana Control.
- Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis would free prisoners and expunge records in addition to allowing Ohio adults to grow up to 99 plants for personal use.
The Green Party is urging its members to support those three proposals. The Libertarian Party is reviewing the other amendments.
All amendments must first obtain approval from the Ohio attorney general and Ohio Ballot Board before collecting the more than 305,591 signatures of Ohio voters required to qualify for the ballot.
Only the Ohio Rights Group, ResponsibleOhio and Better for Ohio are currently collecting the final batch of signatures to appear on the November ballot.