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Ohio’s three referendums—yes, yes and no

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When you vote this Tuesday, you will see three referendums, known as Issues 1, 2 and 3, which all seek to amend the Ohio Constitution. Here’s my view on all three.

Vote yes on Issue 1

Issue 1 seeks to implement a non-partisan approach to drawing voting districts for Ohio state representatives and senators. As important as Issue 1 is, it hasn’t received much news play, and that’s unfortunate. Before explaining how Issue 1 works, let’s look at what goes on now.

Boundaries are now drawn by the Ohio Apportionment Board, which is composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state and two members selected by the legislative leaders of the two major parties. The majority party is free to draw lines in a partisan manner, which puts minority party candidates at a disadvantage. Redistricting is done every 10 years.

If Issue 1 is approved, a new redistricting commission would be created that is composed of seven members: the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and four members appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the General Assembly. At least two minority party votes would be required for a redistricting plan to have a 10-year life span. If at least two minority party members do not approve the plan, it would have a life span of only four years. Issue 1 also requires that boundary lines for a district be contiguous and seeks to minimize the splitting of municipalities and counties.

Issue 1 is a good effort to minimize political gerrymandering, which will make voting in more districts more competitive.  As with most things, competition keeps the system honest and vibrant.

Vote yes on Issue 2

Issue 2 seeks to prohibit the Ohio Constitution from being amended for the purpose of granting a commercial interest or right that is not available to everyone else think of a monopoly.  It is aimed directly at Issue 3, which financially benefits only a handful of people, giving them a monopoly. More about this in a minute.

Had Issue 2 been in place in 2009, we would not have casinos in Ohio today, because it was through a referendum that the Constitution was amended to permit casinos to operate. That amendment was drafted by the casino companies and specifically referred to the establishment of the four casinos now operating in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. The amendment did not confer the right to operate a casino to anyone else in Ohio.

Vote no on Issue 3

Issue 3 would permit 10 predetermined sites throughout the state (located in Butler, Clermont, Franklin, Hamilton, Licking, Lorain, Lucas, Delaware, Stark and Summit counties) to grow marijuana for commercial distribution and allow for the recreational sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at some 1100 locations statewide.

A regulatory commission would be established that will have authority over all licensing, production, distribution, etc. The commission will license not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries to dispense marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions, pursuant to regulations the commission will promulgate. The industry would be subject to a 15 percent tax, and no one under age 21 will be permitted to work in the industry.

Issue 3 would also permit anyone 21 years of age or older to grow four marijuana plants and possess up to eight ounces of marijuana or marijuana-infused products. Licensing is required. Operating vehicles while under the influence of marijuana would be prohibited.

I defer to the American Academy of Pediatrics on Issue 3. According to the AAP, marijuana can impair memory and concentration, interfere with learning and is linked to lower odds of completing high school or obtaining a college degree. Last April, the AAP published a report, “The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical Research and Legal Update.”

“With addictive substances, like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, the older you are when you first experience them, the less likely you are to become addicted to them,” stated Andrew Garner, MD, PhD, FAAP, president of the Ohio AAP. “This may reflect that the part of the brain, the prefontal cortex, that allows you to see the consequences of these substances is not fully developed until the mid-20s. Even worse, some of these substances interfere with the process of brain maturation, making it harder and harder to stop.”

What if both Issue 2 and 3 pass? Issue 2 states that if any proposed amendment that conflicts with it passes on November 3—that would be Issue 3—it “shall not take effect.”

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Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com

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Discussion

  1. Jeffrey Huson  November 2, 2015

    I agree with the ACLU, Yes, No, Yes. Issue Two was hastily drawn to counter the weed initiative, will create a legal quagmire if issue 3 passes, and limits the freedom of citizens to use the initiative process. On Issue 3, I am convinced that the Legislature will never legalize weed, regardless of medical concerns or personal liberty concerns. While a free market solution may be more desirable, the 10 investors have taken the initiative, invested their money, and will take the risk of succeeding or failing at this endeavor. Free markets trend to ologopolies anyhow, so we may have ended up in the same place anyhow. More to the point, a regulated system, with limited access is much healthier than the present system of drug dealers with every incentive to move clients up to heroin. We have a real problem of mass incarceration, and the drug war is largely responsible. Trying to resolve this problem can’t wait until we get around to a legislated or free market approach. Home growers are not going to finance an initiative. Lastly, while I will probably never smoke or eat weed, I don’t like the government telling me I can’t . I am also tired of little government politicians trying to dictate social mores and impose religious views on others.

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  2. Robin Lorms  November 2, 2015

    Jack,

    I agree to vote NO on issue #3 because we still do not have enough knowledge or evidence on how legalization will effect the general population and the youth of our country. I will wait until we have some evidenced based facts coming out of Colorado and Washington before signing off on legalizing weed.

    Robin

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  3. Bill  November 2, 2015

    Jack,

    I agree with you on Issues 1 and 3, however, I disagree on Issue 2. My reasons have nothing to do with Issue 3 and the marijuana issue. In fact, I oppose the idea of monopolies and oligopolies.

    Issue 2 may have had the intent to thwart monopolies but it is poorly written and confusing. It was rushed through at the very last minute by the Ohio legislature and its passage was divided almost strictly along party lines. Many prominent lawyers and law professors have expressed alarm about the broad language and how Issue 2 could make the process of fielding citizen-led initiatives much harder than it already is. This process is already far more costly and complicated than in other states. The Ohio Community Rights Network is also no in favor of Issue 2.

    Currently, by Constitutional right, Ohioans can propose statewide changes by initiative and referendum petitioning when the legislature has been unresponsive to their concerns. Issue 2 would give a 5-member appointed board the power to rule against particular initiatives, and to put a prejudicial question against them on the ballot, making them unlikely to pass.

    The government has no business censoring the content of ballot initiatives before the voters vote. Government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

    Please vote NO on Issue 2, no matter how you vote on Issue 3.

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  4. Jen  November 2, 2015

    I only wish you’d posted this sooner so we would have had time to chat; this (both post and comments) is helpful, but I still have questions. Thanks for starting the conversation.

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  5. Larry  November 3, 2015

    Jack
    America is a great place to live we all have choices. My vote is no, no and yes. Keep up your comments and opinions

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