Next week Ohio will vote on a shitty bill to legalize marijuana. From my understanding of the bill, if it passes it will grant 10 companies the right to grow all the marijuana in the state. It is a shitty bill, but I think it should be supported. I can’t think of anything that is worse than prohibition and Ohio may end up waiting a decade for another chance to vote on legalization.
Each year close to 20,000 people are arrested in Ohio for possession alone. That is 20,000 people who may lose their freedom, their educational opportunities, and possibly their freedom. That needs to change as soon as possible. We can’t keep sacrificing people’s future while waiting for a perfect bill. This terrible crony capitalist wet dream of a bill is better than the police state that exists in Ohio now. With people literally being shot and killed by police for possession of a plant we need to change the laws to take law enforcement out of the drug business for good.
The Ohio measure could also have some far-reaching national effects. Ohio is a swing state and with a presidential election coming up in 2016 a vote for legalization will force the candidates to address the issue. Many of them may be reluctant to come out against marijuana legalization when campaigning in a state that voted for legalization, it is just a bad political move to disagree with over 50% of the voters in a swing state.
I also think it is beneficial to keep up the momentum. We don’t want drug-warriors to win another battle. The donors who support anti-legalization campaigns need to feel like they are wasting their money on an effort that can’t be won. We can’t let them up to catch their breath until the drug war is completely over. A small victory for prohibitionists in Ohio could breathe new life into their cause and give them optimism, stretching the war out even longer costing countless lives.
The bill is far from perfect. In fact, it is pretty terrible, but it is what we have now and we don’t have time to wait for a perfect plan. There will be plenty of opportunities to change the bill in the future. But even if the bill never changes allowing individuals to have greater freedom is still a major victory. Eventually neighboring states will see the tax revenue flowing into Ohio and change their laws, which will for Ohio to be more competitive. Ohio has the opportunity to be the first state east of Colorado to legalize, meaning they will be closest to consumers in New York, Chicago, Boston, DC, St. Louis, and many other urban centers. This could be a major turning point in the war on drugs as long as people don’t insist on perfection above progress.