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Issue 2 in Ohio: Trojan Horse?

Ohio opponents argue an anti-monopoly ballot measure is anti-democratic. Credit: Tom Arthur/Flickr
Ohio opponents argue an anti-monopoly ballot measure is anti-democratic. Credit: Tom Arthur/Flickr
October 12, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The ballot measure to legalize marijuana is not the only controversial issue that will be before Ohio voters this November.

Besides legalizing the drug, Issue 3 would give 10 facilities the exclusive right to grow marijuana.

In response to concerns over the creation of a monopoly, lawmakers drafted Issue 2, the Ohio Initiated Monopolies Amendment.

Greg Coleridge, director of American Friends Service Committee of Northeast Ohio, says Issue 2 is presented as preventing monopolies from being created and protected by the Ohio constitution.

"It is somewhat of a Trojan horse that is much more than it is claimed to be and that in fact will centralize – that would, if you will, monopolize – the effort to try to get citizen initiatives on the ballot, and it is profoundly anti-democratic," he maintains.

Coleridge explains that if Issues 2 passes, the Ohio Ballot Board, which is comprised of representatives from the two major political parties, would be charged with deciding whether any initiatives would create an economic monopoly.

He says there would be no accountability and the board would control which citizen initiatives are allowed to be voted on, restricting citizens' access to the ballot.

Carla Rautenberg, a move to Amend Ohio Network volunteer, contends another problem is that Issue 2 was fast-tracked through the Ohio Legislature with very little public discussion or deliberation.

She says it was written in a confusing way, leaving it open for political and legal interpretation.

"The language of this bill is so vague that it could be used to do very undemocratic things,” she maintains. “It's a poison pill. It's a sneaky, underhanded move, And it's really frightening that there are so few people that are aware of this."

The American Friends Service Committee of Northeast Ohio, Common Cause, the Ohio Green Party, SPAN Ohio and the Move to Amend Ohio Network all are opposing Issue 2.

It is supported by the Ohio Republican Party, several lawmakers and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH