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Voters In This State Could Make Marijuana History Today

November 3, 2015, 2:18 PM UTC
Marijuana Supporters March In Hemp Parade
BERLIN - AUGUST 07: A man smokes licenced medicinal marijuana prior to participating in the annual Hemp Parade, or "Hanfparade", in support of the legalization of marijuana in Germany on August 7, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The consumption of cannabis in Germany is legal, though all other aspects, including growing, importing or selling it, are not. However, since the introduction of a new law in 2009, the sale and possession of marijuana for licenced medicinal use is legal. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Photograph by Sean Gallup—Getty Images

Ohio voters are heading to the polls Tuesday to vote on whether or not to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

The passage of Issue 3 would make Ohio the home of a lot of firsts: the first Midwestern state to legalize the drug, the first successful privately-funded legalization campaign, and the first state in the country to legalize medical and recreational uses at once, according to the Washington Post.

But what really makes the Ohio ballot initiative different is that it limits growing and selling marijuana to 10 predetermined farms. Those properties are owned by the investment groups that are bankrolling the campaign for Issue 3 through an organization called ResponsibleOhio, according to Politico. Each investment group was asked to pitch in between $2-4 million to ResponsibleOhio. They now stand to make as much as $1 billion annually as Ohio’s only large-scale pot farmers.

It’s an arrangement that critics—both pot enthusiasts and anti-legalizations advocates—are calling a constitutionally-mandated monopoly.

The investors who stand to become Ohio’s pot industry oligarchs include a list of B-list Ohio celebrities, like Nick Lachey (of frosted-tip 98 Degrees fame) and a pair of distant descendants of U.S. President William Howard Taft. The investors, led by political operative Ian James, defend Issue 3 by saying that Ohio residents will be allowed to grow up to four plants for personal use, and that large-scale operating licenses will probably be handed to other farms in coming years.

In July, state lawmakers added another initiative to the ballot: Issue 2, which would ban the creation of a constitutional amendment for exclusive financial gain.