Conspiracy Theorist 10/27

Semi-legalization of marijuana

Ultra-rich advocates plan to create Ohio growers’ cartel

By Mark Luedtke

WCPO Cincinnati recently ran an op-ed featuring a supporter and critic of the Issue 3 plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio. Supporter Woody Taft writes, “Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, traffic fatalities are down 6 percent, arrests are down 10 percent, with significant drops in arrests for violent crimes, including murder and rape. Heroin overdose deaths are down nearly a third, and at the same time, teens who say they have tried marijuana is down 2 percent.”

But Rep. Mike Curtin highlights the dark side of Issue 3.

“Issue 3 is a business plan,” he says. “It seeks to enshrine in our Ohio Constitution an exclusive deal to benefit 10 wealthy landowners and their financial backers. Their business plan envisions a ‘$1 billion-plus’ marijuana industry in Ohio that would be immune from competition.”

Unfortunately, both men are right. Legalizing marijuana confers tremendous benefits on all the people, whether they use it or not, just as one would expect. We could enjoy far greater benefits if we ended all drug prohibition, like our ancestors enjoyed when Congress ended alcohol prohibition. It is government regulation and banning of goods that create most of the problems we associate with them.

But instead of allowing every Ohioan to benefit from legalization, the promoters of Issue 3 want to keep the profits to themselves. Much like with the recent Constitutional amendment creating local monopolies for casinos in Ohio’s big cities, Issue 3 creates 10 local marijuana growing monopolies, and I’m sure Taft will profit from one of them. These local monopolies will form a powerful cartel that will influence the Ohio legislature for their own benefit.

We shouldn’t have to pay for the benefits of legalizing marijuana by enshrining a greedy, new, government-created cartel, but that’s the hand we’re dealt. It’s much easier for government to ensure tax compliance from a handful of ultra-rich marijuana producers than from millions of Ohioans growing pot in their basements. And tax receipts will be higher because all marijuana must be bought and sold through a government-approved channel. Users can’t grow their own. This is why government centralizes everything to the detriment of us all. Every action government takes divides people into winners and losers. If we want the benefits of legalizing marijuana, we have to suffer the new cartel.

In addition to the 10 grower monopolies, Issue 3 will create 1,159 retail stores, like state liquor stores but way more of them. That’s an oddly specific number, as if 1,159 specific supporters plan to run their own government-created mini-monopolies. Other stores will be banned from selling marijuana.

This is a reminder that government creates all monopolies and cartels. Since the function of monopolies and cartels is to set prices higher than in a free market, they can’t exist in a free market. In a free market, seeing prices held artificially high, cartel members will either undercut the cartel to gain marketshare or competitors will enter the market with a lower-priced product, breaking the monopoly or cartel. Most people think government prevents monopolies. They have it backward.

On the other hand, keeping the growing of marijuana illegal limits the benefits of legalization. Cops can—and will—still kick in grandma’s door at 4 a.m. and shoot her, claiming they got an anonymous tip she was growing pot in her closet. That’s not legalization, but it will be hard to justify so maybe those assaults will become less frequent.

But police will be severely curtailed in their ability to prey on minorities using marijuana as an excuse, so Issue 3 is a big win for minorities, especially young, black men. Children will be less likely to get their hands on marijuana, too. That’s a big benefit.

Curtin advocates Issue 2 to block Issue 3. It creates a constitutional amendment that purports to outlaw government-created monopolies, but it can’t do that. Any future amendment creating local monopolies like Issue 3 would be worded to exclude the monopolies created regardless of any existing amendment. Issue 2 is useless even if you like the idea.

Curtin writes, “By adopting a popular-sounding, cause and promising lucrative profits, these political operators recruit investors to finance slick campaigns that seek to corner the market on an area of commerce.”

That’s why the state exists: to protect and further enrich the rich. Issue 3 is no different than any other government intervention in the market in that regard, but it also has great benefits by reducing government’s assault on people’s natural right to purchase and consume marijuana.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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