On Ballot, Ohio Grapples With Specter of Marijuana Monopoly
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, a collector of antique marijuana apothecary jars, the founder of an industrial hemp business and “a pot smoker consistently for 47 years,” Don Wirtshafter, an Ohio lawyer, has fought for decades to make marijuana legal, calling it “my life’s work.”
But when Ohio voters go to the polls Tuesday to consider a constitutional amendment to allow marijuana for both medical and personal use, Mr. Wirtshafter will vote against it.
Issue 3, as the proposed amendment is known, is bankrolled by wealthy investors spending nearly $25 million to put it on the ballot and sell it to voters. If it passes, they will have exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. The proposal has a strange bedfellows coalition of opponents: law enforcement officers worried about crime, doctors worried about children’s health, state lawmakers and others who warn that it would enshrine a monopoly in the Ohio Constitution.