Faint praise for Ohio 3

Ohio’s “Issue 3” plan to legalize marijuana is the worst serious plan I’ve seen. It creates a permanent cartel, and puts  Constitutional cap on low, primitive taxes — forever.  I oppose it as hard as I can.  Freezing primitive price-based taxes is a deal killer from my tax policy perspective

But it could be worse.

— The wealthy folks who corner the market don’t appear nefarious. At least with Issue 3 voters aren’t faced with a deal where the money goes to, say, the KKK. (Some consumers say nothing matters but the consumer, and they don’t care where the money goes. What if, instead of to garden variety rich people, the money went to ISIS?  Would those consumers not blink?)

— Issue 3 brings citizens face to face with the reality of Big Money’s role in politics. Whether or not Big Money loses this vote, voters will get more evidence about what kind of democracy or plutocracy (rule of the wealthy) we have.

— A technical point:  Issue 3 addresses the bundling problem by taxing all sales of everything by marijuana retailers at the same rate. A low rate, and a permanent rate – the latter is a deal killer. But Issue 3 solves the “free pot with pipe” ploy by taxing the pipe just like the pot.

— Issue 3 sets a precedent for requiring home growers to get licenses, and pay for them.

— If you’re a drug policy expert, passage of Issue 3 will lead to a boom in business. If a proposal as flawed as Issue 3 can pass, the public will be seen as all in for legalization. Legislatures will be desperate to get to work figuring out better ways to legalize.  (Some of my best friends are drug policy experts.)

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

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