RE: ResponsibleOhio: Does the End Justify the Means?

This is a rebuttal to Brad White’s August 10th, 2015 post, where the case was made that perhaps the ends justify the means when it comes to marijuana legalization. To punctuate the point, Mr. White included a quote and picture of Leon Trotsky, a renowned Bolshevik, that states that “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.”

To say such a thing implies that it doesn’t matter what means are employed, so long as the end result itself is justifiable. Such a statement is gapingly shortsighted, which is explained in this quote from Aldous Huxley:

Brad White shares the very concerns and sentiments that I have towards this proposed amendment; However, unlike Mr. White, I personally have no struggle in being decisive about ResponsibleOhio’s version of legalization that Ohioans will vote on this November. Legalization should be about giving the power back to the people — the very people that were stripped of their right to cannabis decades ago. ResponsibleOhio gives that power to the elite — and only to the elite. I personally will be voting No. I implore you not to go down the RO road.

In his piece, Mr. White asserts that Ohioans should look more to the benefits of legalization, rather than getting hung up on the various discrepancies that voters have with ResponsibleOhio’s plan. Telling readers to “get over the doom and gloom rhetoric” sounds awfully akin to the sentiments of the RO camp, devaluing the concerns that Ohioans (and all Americans) have regarding a denial of equal opportunity in the market.

Mr. White provided his perspective on the oligopoly aspect of RO, possession rules dictated by RO, and the notion of waiting for a better plan. In pursuit of congruent discourse, I’ll provide my retort to each perspective.

Oligopoly

After acknowledging the fact that ResponsibleOhio is — in fact — an Oligopoly, Mr. White goes on to state that “an oligopoly like ResponsibleOhio, where pre-determined investors lock out everyone else before the market even opens its doors is unconscionable for many people.” That’s the main problem, one that should be unconscionable to all people who understand that if we vote away our basic right to equal access of economic opportunity, we will end up having to fight an even better funded Cartel (as RO will be) once they lock down the market as opposed to fighting the enemy at our gates this year.

Brad’s post then goes on to state that “if ResponsibleOhio’s business plan fits the rumor mill, it presents a more favorable scenario than what many believed up front.” This rumor that he refers to is the proclamation that the 10 investor sites will be able to lease land to individuals to grow on. This rumor is yet another example of the verbal promises that RO representatives have made to the public, but failed to actually mandate in their Amendment. Not only is the leasing of the investor sites not a guarantee, but neither is the Home Grow program, nor is the wholesale medical marijuana program. The structure of each of these is worded in a way that leaves a loophole available so that they never actually have to be implemented. This isn’t the first time that an investor group has attempted to get a constitutionally protected monopoly on industry passed by the voters by over-promising with every opportunity to under-deliver; the Casino Amendment of 2009 has left quite the foul taste in the mouths of citizens who were grossly over-promised tax revenue, jobs, and opportunities. Not surprisingly, Ian James of The Strategy Network and Executive Director of ResponsibleOhio is behind both the Casino Amendment and RO’s Marijuana Legalization Amendment.

While I understand that Mr. White is attempting to play nice and give multiple perspectives, I still insist that it is reckless behavior. Tempting eager entrepreneurs with the idea that they can build a sustainable business based on verbal promises of arguably corrupt individuals is not the type of behavior I would be engaging in if my purpose is to give people the best advisement possible. A consequence of presenting a soft side regarding ResponsibleOhio was evident at a meeting held on August 16th by Brad White for his Ohio Cannabis Entrepreneurs group in Columbus, OH. At this meeting there were two gentlemen who stated their interest in participating in the manufacturing side of the industry, though conceded that it would be less of an attractive opportunity, being that under ResponsibleOhio they could only obtain product from the RO grow sites, putting consistency of quality and quantity in the hands of the Oligopoly — not in their own — nor the hands of a Free Market.

But the hunger in their eyes for any scrap of an opportunity indicated what the landscape of “entrepreneurs” will be under RO. Those with hopes of starting and surviving in an industry under RO will be competing for the inherently scarce opportunities, knowing full well that they are directly cutting the proverbial throats of other entrepreneurs in close quarters. To me, the act of participating in an industry where equal access is not available is a moral barrier. I have no intention to contribute to or participate in any aspect of what the Ohio marijuana industry will be if RO passes: a Coward’s Market.

At the end of the meeting, I walked away with a disappointment in the savviness of some our prospective cannabis entrepreneurs. Basing a business model on verbal promises is dull, to say the least.

Another point of Brad’s was that though there is an assumption that the 10 investor sites may collude to control prices, it would both jeopardize their license to grow as well as not be the best utilization of their land by not competing “aggressively for the largest share of the supply as possible.” As far as I’m concerned, they are already aggressively competing for the largest share of the supply — all of the State of Ohio, which they have already colluded on in every sense of the word. ResponsibleOhio investors came together secretly, claiming transparency but failing to provide the details as to who the funders are to the mega-investors, in effort to lock out farmers, small-businesses, and entrepreneurs.

Brad’s last point under the Oligopoly perspective is that he concurs that the ResponsibleOhio model will motivate the Black Market to exist and expand, which I submit to the reader will attract the attention of Federal Drug Law Enforcement to the State of Ohio even more, resulting in the continuance of prohibition nationally.

What blows my mind is that Mr. White writes, “I don’t know if this is enough of a reason to vote No. Making decisions in life is often about your next best alternative, and right now the next best alternative is a continued state of prohibition.” So we have the option of continuing on in a decriminalized State — one where further decriminalization measures are already in the works and up for vote this year — or to adopt RO’s altered form of continued prohibition. Such a choice is easy to make when you actually weigh the consequences of allowing a constitutionally protected monopoly on an entire industry.

Not all decisions are as cut and dry as selecting the lesser of two evils. Having a stern moral compass helps greatly in being a decisive person when the decision is complicated with private interests’ propaganda and tempting promises.

Possession Rules

Again, Brad White concedes that a concern is that RO’s low possession limit (and low in relation to the current ORC) and 4-flowering plants limit “may incentivize police to find new ways to bust people — leading to similar or more severe consequences than exist today.” One breath later, Brad argues that Law Enforcement probably wouldn’t spend the time and resources to check on your 4 plants or investigate the source of your seeds. Perhaps he’s right, but he’s blatantly ignoring the mandated institution of ResponsibleOhio’s own “Enforcement Agents,” something you can clearly find in the last sentence of Section I in the Amendment. Not only that, but RO’s tax structure includes funding to Law Enforcement. BUT WAIT, there’s more: the Amendment mandates that one member of the Control Commission be a sworn member of Law Enforcement, which you can clearly find in the first paragraph of Section I.

A sworn member of Law Enforcement on the Commission? Tax money going straight to Law Enforcement? Mandatory special Enforcement Agents? Gee, they aren’t planning on utilizing Law Enforcement to serve their new Constitutional Cartel at all — said no one who read Section I in detail.

Then Mr. White does the remarkable: he compares the home grow busts in a State with a Free Market system to prospective home grow busts in Ohio under the new Cartel. “Who is getting busted? Is it the guys with a couple ounces on them? Is it guys in Colorado with a few more than the legally allowed 6 plants? No — it’s the guys growing large crops with clear intent to distribute.”

If the proposed legalization amendment in Ohio was similar to Colorado, then that would be an accurate comparison to make. That is not the case, as Colorado supports a Free Market that incentivizes those who were operating illegitimately before to partake legally now. ResponsibleOhio incentivizes illegal growers to continue operating illegally by the very act of barring them from becoming legitimate in the first place.

ResponsibleOhio would like Ohioans to believe that their legalization amendment will decrease the Black Market, despite solid reasoning to the contrary. Such a massive discrepancy is indicative of the corrupt nature of the RO beast. They are insisting that we believe in their promises, despite those promises being completely impractical. To quote the late Christopher Hitchens, “Demands that you believe the impossible do not lead to peaceful outcomes, nor do they lead to peaceful or tolerant regimes.” We are voting on that very regime in November.

Another quote from Mr. White’s post: “Let’s not forget… there are many that are not [purchasing cannabis illegally] and are suffering today because they don’t have legal access. As human beings, should we really tell people in need ‘No’ just because we are against the idea of stacking the chips in favor of those already at the top of the food chain?”

What puff piece would be complete without the tried and true method of tugging at heart strings? Frankly, I’m surprised Ian James didn’t shave the RO logo into an adorable young doggy and name it “ResponsiblePuppy.” Nothing converts fence-riders better than parading sick men, women, and children for all eyes to see their suffering, claiming that they have the ultimate solution to their problems — which they do not.

First and foremost, not one person has been able to provide me with a medical condition to which cannabis provides an immediate solution. The most abundant claim is that it will stop seizures in children with epilepsy. I’ve seen CBD oil (technically not illegal in Ohio, by the way) stop a seizure. I’ve also seen CBD oil NOT stop a seizure. The problem is that diseases like Epilepsy and general Neuropathy are the result of inflammation and subsequent degradation of the central and peripheral nerves — something actually reversed and fixed by reducing inflammation and increasing the myelination of those nerves, which can be achieved without cannabis as the source of the fats needed to achieve that myelination. Cannabis has components that are both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. Even in States with medical marijuana, patients have little to no idea if what they are taking is completely anti-inflammatory. What’s more, if the primary dietary cause of the disease is not addressed, cannabis will do little more than temporarily mask the overall problem.

I risk sounding cold-hearted with these statements, but the fact remains that there are already wonderfully successful fixes to these ailments, though they are not always immediate. Sadly, they aren’t fixes that Big Pharma supports, nor do most doctors. Doctors aren’t trained in nutrition. Why suffering Ohioans haven’t fired the pill-shills and done their own research (or seek out better practitioners) is beyond me. When I get sick, I aim to fix it myself and have been quite successful; but others tend to feel hopeless and do little to nothing on their own, resulting in a public health concern. Now, Ohioans are being asked to sacrifice their principles of Freedom to appease a public health concern. I submit to the reader that it is not a moral action to force charity onto others, especially when that charity comes at the cost of equality, a principle that is supposed to be a basic human right — and even more especially when the prospective execution of such charity is nothing more than a verbal promise made by those who clearly value financial interest over altruism.

Waiting for Better Legalization

In a nutshell, this perspective of Brad’s is that we don’t have the potential for a better Amendment for 2016. To me, this is a moot point. Going about this process by way of an amendment to our State Constitution has been as much of a disaster as working with the Legislature, but the latter is actually where the real change can be made and in faster order. It is the citizens of Ohio that have been remiss in their duties, which is why such a quick fix as RO claims to be is so appealing. Rather than accepting defeat, Ohioans should use this assault on our Free Market as a motivator to bombard your local legislators with phone calls, letters, emails, and attendance at meetings and events in a coordinated manner. We clearly have the attention of constituents across the entire State. It is a shame what has brought about the need for our attention, but if we miss this opportunity to unite against bad public policy and divert that energy towards proper legalization, we will be hard pressed to have such an opportunity again.

Work is being done on local levels by some very passionate people. Join them. Research the State and National organizations that actually advocate for patients, not just parade them around to sway your vote for their business plan. You have always had power and a voice- regardless if your posture wavers or your voice shakes. You can start using it any time now.

In Conclusion

ResponsibleOhio’s plan will be less of a “legalization” and more of an altered prohibition, continuing the Black Market and continuing the failed War on Drugs. The very points that RO supporters dangle in front of you (like a carrot to a beast of burden) are nothing more than verbal promises — propaganda for Private Interests. “Patients need medicine!” Not guaranteed or probable. “We can grow our own!” Also not guaranteed or probable. “At least it will be legal!” You have a very skewed definition of “legalization.”

This is truly a battle for Ohio. It is a war of information vs misinformation. It is a war of propaganda vs actual details. I hope that this rebuttal has provided a scale of reference for those concerned about the accuracy department of such discourse — something I believe Brad has dropped the ball on.

I don’t think that Brad White is a bad guy. I just think that Brad White isn’t being the greatest guy that he has the potential and opportunity to be — even if it isn’t an opportunity to make money.

I suspect that Mr. White’s methods will go unchanged. He stated that his intention is to participate in the Ohio Cannabis Industry under whatever regime will allow him, albeit more so in the realm of ancillary services. He’ll have to excuse my lack of enthusiasm for feeding into a machine that further subjugates people who aren’t at the top, or who aren’t willing to suckle at whatever teat that promises them milk.

A situational abandonment of our principles to solely suit opportunity renders those principles useless. They simply do not exist in the first place if they can be set on the shelf at the faint whiff of a sizzling steak.

For those who argue that they will still have plenty of opportunities under ResponsibleOhio, there isn’t much room to reason with them; however, I hope you enjoy the leaked email where Ian James alludes to securing those “retail opportunities” for their investors, which will be posted to the Citizens Against Responsible Ohio Facebook page at 6:30 this evening.

You had better line up, make a massive donation, and sign RO’s non-disclosure agreement now. I suspect you’ll be out of luck come 2016.

Written by: Aaron Weaver, President of Citizens Against Responsible Ohio