Lively marijuana, monopoly issue forum draws crowd
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015
A state legislator and a longtime Statehouse lobbyist engaged in an animated and informative debate on State Issues 2 and 3 in tonight's forum at the Whetstone Library.
State Rep. Mike Curtin (D-17) spoke against Issue 3 and in favor of Issue 2, squaring off against Responsible Ohio consultant Neil Clark, who took the opposing view of each issue, in the 90-minute forum titled "Marijuana & Monopolies: Understanding Issues 2 & 3," and moderated by Jo Ingles of Ohio Public Radio's Statehouse News Bureau.
Following brief opening remarks from each, Ingles opened the floor to questions from the capacity audience of 50 people -- the majority of whom were unaffiliated with the League and enthusiastic to get clarification on the competing issues.
Curtin painted Issue 3 and Responsible Ohio as an effort to embed in the state Constitution exclusive profits from the sale of marijuana for 10 investors, while Clark countered that the legislature's failure to act on legalization prompted the group to move on an issue that is quickly gaining public support across Ohio and the nation. Clark, meanwhile, characterized Issue 2 -- which would prohibit new monopolies in the Constitution -- as a threat to voters' rights, while Curtin pointed to settled case law and examples of states that have taken similar steps to prohibit monopolies as evidence that the amendment would not make it more difficult to get future petitions on the ballot.
Questions and comments ranged from current science on medical marijuana, the location of grow sites, and the need for communities to approve local options before stores are permitted to sell marijuana, to the impact of State Issue 1 (redistricting) and proposed right-to-work amendments on the political environment.
The League's vice president for education and advocacy, Kay Skopin, worked with the committee and President David Patton to develop the forum. Similar events are scheduled for the third Tuesday of upcoming months this year.