COLUMBUS — The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) has announced its opposition to the marijuana legalization measure likely to be on the November 2015 ballot.
The proposal distorts Ohio’s constitution, creates a monopoly that excludes average Ohioans and puts the state at odds with federal law.
Ohio Farm Bureau is one of the first statewide organizations to oppose the measure. The organization’s board of trustees chose to oppose the measure following an extensive study of the issue and in accordance with Farm Bureau policy.
The proposal would amend Ohio’s Constitution to grant a small group of investors a monopoly on the commercial growing and selling of marijuana. The investors would profit from an industry estimated to be worth more than $1 billion by 2020.
Constitutionally benefiting wealthy investors is especially troublesome to Farm Bureau.
“The state constitution is about guaranteeing Ohioans’ basic freedoms, not guaranteeing a few people’s profits,” said John C. (Jack) Fisher, OFBF’s executive vice president.
Farm Bureau also questions the wisdom of amending the state constitution to be in direct conflict with U.S. statutes. Marijuana is an illegal drug despite the current Washington administration’s decision to not enforce federal law.
“We’re going to get a new president in just over a year,” Fisher said. “What happens if he or she decides to get tougher? How much will it cost Ohio taxpayers to fight that battle?”
Farm Bureau also thinks Ohioans will benefit from a more deliberative approach to such an important issue. Four other states have recently legalized marijuana, which allows Ohio the opportunity to monitor and learn from their experiences.
Fisher said the organization recognizes that societal views on marijuana are evolving. But he believes even supporters of recreational or medical use should oppose the current measure.
“Manipulating the constitution in a way that’s legally questionable to profit a small number of investors is just a really bad idea,” he said.