Ohio’s Hypocrisy on Legalizing Pot

Ohio lawmakers have gotten into a hypocritical frenzy about a monopoly on pot.

No legislature in the world is more thoroughly owned and operated by major corporations than the one in Columbus. Thanks to astonishingly blatant gerrymandering and election theft, both houses of the legislature in a strongly Democratic state are dominated by money-driven Republicans.

To better serve their utility and fossil/nuke masters, the legislature and GOP Governor John Kasich, a Koch candidate for president, recently gutted bi-partisan standards promoting renewable energy.

Green technology threatens cash-rich utility monopolies like FirstEnergy, an Akron-based electric monster that runs the infamously decrepit Davis-Besse nuke. So Kasich recently slipped into a budget bill, without public debate, a law aimed to kill Ohio’s once-booming wind industry. More than $2 billion in committed investments have disappeared along with thousands of jobs and a lifetime of cheap industrial-scale electricity.

Meanwhile FirstEnergy wants Ohio regulators to let it gouge more than $3 billion from rate payers to keep Davis-Besse operating while it loses millions and crumbles into radioactive oblivion.

All that monopoly protection – and much more – is just fine with Ohio lawmakers.

But when it comes to cannabis…..

A crew of major investors has just submitted nearly 700,000 signatures for a vote on a state constitutional amendment to legalize. Ten certified for-profit pot farms would be licensed to the amendment’s sponsors, along with a network of dispensaries. The cash flow would be taxed by the state.

Individual Ohioans could raise some plants on their own, but within strict limits.

Hard-core pot advocates generally hate the plan, arguing that cannabis should be freely grown and used.

But the legislators hate it even more.

Why?

Because it threatens the highly profitable business of jailing pot smokers. Thousands of Ohioans are arrested annually. The public cash then flows to police, judges, lawyers, for-profit prison operators. Still more comes from asset seizure (including the cannabis itself). The legislators get “campaign contributions” from those who profit from keeping weed illegal.

Illegal pot also gives booze-guzzling, cigarette-smoking “conservatives” something to bloviate about.

That legalization has proved immensely successful in Colorado, Washington, etc., and that the medical benefits of cannabis are now irrevocably established, have nothing to do with it.

With their backs to the wall, pot-hating pols (many of whom – including the governor – are rumored to smoke it themselves) have now chosen the most hilarious of all targets: monopoly.

With perfectly straight faces, whole hordes of monopoly-owned politicos are suddenly steamed about a statewide referendum that might benefit a monopoly (one that has apparently not yet slipped them sufficient cash to secure their loyalty).

Of course, they say it has nothing to do with pot itself.

It’s just that they don’t want our democratic process to be somehow polluted by laws that might benefit investors.

Who do they think they’re kidding?

Read this twice if you have to: Ohio’s monopoly-owned legislature has now voted to put on the fall ballot a law that prohibits referenda that benefit monopolies (yes, you read that right).

Republican Attorney-General Mike DeWine says that if both referenda pass, the one banning referenda that benefit monopolies will negate the one that legalizes pot.

But – and you’ll love this one – the attorney general made it clear this “anti-monopoly” law will not affect the one recently passed to approve a statewide monopoly for, you guessed it, casinos.

So Ohio’s “free market” crusaders think it’s perfectly fine to enact a referendum granting a monopoly to their buddies who run gambling halls.

But when it comes to raising cannabis, that’s…what?…ungodly?…did someone forget to slip them a percentage of the take?

Yes, they are for real.

Thankfully, this legalization proposal might at least slow the flow of innocent pot smokers into Ohio’s heinous for-profit marijuana archipelago.

But the idea of monopolizing a weed is truly a mind-bender. Corporatizing one of nature’s great gifts is morally wrong. Veteran cannabis advocates are right to take offense.

But whatever the case, the absurd hypocrisy of Ohio’s thoroughly corrupt legislators mounting a high-horse against monopolies has been worth the price of admission.

And here’s some advice on this particular contact high: turn on and tune in, but don’t drop out. Whatever comes next is bound to be even more mind-bending.