Ohio Pot Vote Could Make Nick Lachey Very Rich
But critics of legalization amendment say it would create a growers' monopoly
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2015 9:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Ohio pot advocate Don Wirtshafter has been an enthusiastic smoker for nearly 50 years. But as his state heads to the polls Tuesday to vote on Issue 3, a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, he says he won't vote for it, the New York Times reports. That's because he says it's being hijacked by a group of wealthy investors—including NBA legend Oscar Robertson, pop singer Nick Lachey, and a couple of President Taft's descendants, per the Washington Post—who would create a monopoly in which only they could grow commercial cannabis in Ohio. And they would certainly rake in the green, with the Post citing a Marijuana Policies of Ohio Taskforce study that predicts the farms would sell $1.1 billion worth of pot each year. Also on Tuesday's ballot: Issue 2, the "antimonopoly amendment" that would cause a bit of a mess if it passed along with Issue 3, the Times notes.

The Ohio stump to legalize medical marijuana was already in the works under Wirtshafter and the Ohio Rights Group when political consultant Ian James decided to take it a step further, the Times notes. In 2014, James pulled together ResponsibleOhio, made up of 10 investment groups who'd, by the Post's figures, put up around $14 million each to underwrite the Issue 3 campaign and set up their farms. In exchange, they'd retain all rights to grow pot in Ohio. James' "strange bedfellows coalition" of opponents, as the Times calls it, comprises the Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies group, which includes lawmakers, critics who say the campaign's mascot markets pot to kids, health experts, and law enforcement. Critics also note James' group itself is raking in more than $5 million, which James shrugs off. "We have clearly taken this from the tie-dye to the suit-and-tie approach," he tells the Times. "Right, wrong, or indifferent, this is the way legalization is moving in this country now." (See what Lachey has to say in his ResponsibleOhio video.)