The Plain Dealer REALLY Wants You to Vote NO on Issue 3

Once again, the Plain Dealer Editorial Board has come down extremely hard on Issue 3, the proposed legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana that we can all vote on tomorrow. 

In their searing editorial last week, the PD laid into the irresponsible, cash-soaked tycoons behind ResponsibleOhio and denounced their tactics in trying to secure YES votes — courting the inner-city African-American community, using a mascot on college campuses, financing a veritable fuck-ton of marketing materials (which included a Scene cover wrap last week).

"ResponsibleOhio is right to argue for marijuana decriminalization," the editorial board writes, for instance, "but decriminalization and sentencing reform should be dealt with directly, not as a supposed side benefit to legalizing weed and creating a grower cartel."

The editorial board has favored using "cartel" over "monopoly" again and again, assuming perhaps that the criminal associations will remind voters that even if 10 investors are constitutionally permitted to cultivate and sell weed to authorized distributors, the result still looks an awful lot like a criminal enterprise.

And for that matter, the PD thinks that legalizing weed won't cut into black-market sales, as ResponsibleOhio has claimed. 

"Would not the illegal Mexican cartels continue to prosper," the editorial board fairly inquires, "by undercutting the prices established by a voter-sanctioned commercial marijuana cartel supplying state-sanctioned, marijuana-selling retail stores?"

Though the editorial writers don't fully convey the substance of Issue 2, the sloppy ballot item intended to undercut monopolies — "the courts will have to sort it all out" — they nonetheless full-throatedly endorse a NO on 3 and YES on 2.

The PD also published an editorial from Greater Cleveland Partnership president and CEO Joe Roman, and ADAMHS CEO Bill Denihan (who debated ResponsibleOhio's Ian James at the City Club last month). They voiced objections to the proposed monopoly structure and the medical ramifications of weed legalization. Denihan, in particular, is worried that legal pot will send a message to children that smoking is less harmful than it is, when in fact pot is much more potent and dangerous than it was 20 years ago.

The PD editorial director Betsy Sullivan saw fit to publish both a yea and nay editorial from guest contributors about Issue 8, the proposed extension of a cigarette tax to support arts organizations, but the Issue 3 material is entirely one-sided.

Hollers the editorial board: "On Nov. 3, Ohioans should refuse to be cowed by a slick political campaign that cloaks a get-rich-quick scheme in advocacy for individual freedom and that gives short shrift to the many unanswered questions about the effects of legalizing marijuana." 

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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