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Husted Defends Wording Of Marijuana Legalization Measure

Sep 3, 2015

Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has expressed interest in becoming governor.

Speaking at a Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum yesterday, Husted expressed interested when asked by an audience member. Husted was re-elected last year and will be subject to term limits.  During that same appearance, Husted defended the language for this fall's marijuana legalization ballot issue. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow explains.

Husted said the issues on this November’s ballot have the potential to greatly impact the future of Ohio government and politics.  
 
And Husted says they all have to do with monopolies.  
 
“The first one, Issue 1, is about ending a political monopoly. Issue 2 is about ending private monopolies and Issue 3 is about granting a new monopoly,” said Husted.  
 
Issue 3, which would legalize marijuana for personal use, has been the most high-profile initiative.  
 
The title Husted chose and the language he and the Ballot Board approved to appear before voters have been challenged in the state Supreme Court by the issue’s backers, ResponsibleOhio.  
 
The key word, again, is monopoly. The amendment includes 10 official marijuana growing sites, and the title of the issue states that it “grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana...” Husted said ReponsibleOhio, which is backed by about two dozen wealthy investors, is responsible for the wording.  
 
“If they didn’t want it called a monopoly then shouldn’t have created a monopoly that’s what it is. I mean you look at the dictionary and that’s the definition of a monopoly when a small group of people have control over a commodity and they have pricing power and how it’s both produced and sold and that’s exactly what this does,” Husted said.  
 
Husted said the title and language were created out of a goal to make it as simple as possible to voters.  
 
“Not to use what I call weasel words that allow you to mask what the truth of something is versus what it really is.”  
 
But ResponsibleOhio’s Ian James thinks the language greatly missed the mark.  
 
“It’s simply misleading, it’s simply deceptive and it’s simply defrauding the voters on what exactly they’re going to be voting on, on Issue 3,” said James.  
 
James adds that Husted has put himself in a conflict of interest since he’s been a vocal opponent of the measure.  
 
During the forum Husted also tackled what could be the biggest legal question regarding the ballot. Issue 2 would make it harder for groups like ResponsibleOhio to put their initiatives on the ballot. So what happens if voters approve both Issue 2 and Issue 3?  
 
Husted said there are triggers that were specifically written into Issue 2 by the Legislature that would make it trump the marijuana reform. But others, including James, disagree.  
 
Issue 1 on the ballot addresses a topic Husted is very familiar with - redistricting. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved this initiative in an attempt to stop what’s known as gerrymandering, when lawmakers’ districts are drawn to favor one political party over the other. Husted attempted to get something like Issue 1 passed during his time in the Legislature but those efforts fell short.  
 
The secretary of state said reforming the panel that draws those district boundaries will greatly change the culture on Capitol Square.  
 
“We believe in market forces. The market enforces in politics are to focus on primary voters only in the way we draw districts and not on the voices of the general election voters and that has to change and it won’t change until we do something like Issue 1,” Husted said.  
 
The first round of ballots will be sent out in mid-September to oversees and military voters.