Marijuana Mogul? Here’s Why Nick Lachey May Make Millions If Weed Becomes …

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Health leaders in Cincinnati oppose marijuana legalization.

They sure didn’t look very smart on their show “The Newlyweds,” but now Jessica Simpson fronts a clothing company worth more than $1 billion, and her ex-husband Nick Lachey is poised to become one of the richest marijuana growers in the state of Ohio.Issue 3 would legalize cannabis for recreational and medical use and create a network of 10 authorized growing sites that’s been targeted as a monopoly by a separate ballot issue. If it passes, there will be 10 farms that can legally grow marijuana, including a 29-acre plot outside of Akron that the Cincinnati native would co-own, the Washington Post reports. The leader of PreventionFIRST!, a coalition of prevention, treatment, business and health care leaders, and a pharmacist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said Friday that legalization poses “significant public health concerns.” The concerns they cite include increased exposure of children to marijuana and marijuana products.

ResponsibleOhio, the pro-legalization campaign, argues that legalization will help reduce the current illegal distribution of cannabis to underage Ohioans. And yet it has driven a wedge into the usual pro-marijuana coalition, in part because of language in the measure that would restrict virtually all large-scale marijuana cultivation to 10 specifically designated farms. Four other states and the District of Columbia now permit recreational use of marijuana – but each had a period of several years in which marijuana was permitted for medical use only. A random bunch, including Lachey, designer Nanette Lepore, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, NFL journeyman Frostee Rucker, a pair of President William Howard Taft’s great-great-grandnephews and twenty-some others — who, not coincidentally, are the same folks bankrolling the campaign, and standing to become very, very wealthy if the measure passes. “They are creating a constitutionally mandated oligopoly,” argues Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Once they are up and running, the 10 farms would service around 1,100 state-sponsored pot dispensaries, which would be required by law to buy their wares from those 10 farms.

But the initiative’s organizers maintain that the novel arrangement is the only way to fund a successful legalization campaign in a far-from-liberal state. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was made legal in 2012, a report entitled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” shows the number of marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 41 percent. And they’re not just complaining – they have also introduced a ballot measure so people can vote on whether a monopoly can be granted through a ballot initiative. Passage of this proposal will result in much-needed economic development opportunities across Ohio, and update the state’s position on marijuana in a smart and safe way.” Long before Jessica Simpson cemented his turn-of-the-millennium fame, Lachey grew up in Cincinnati, a football-loving dude whose parents shunted him and his brother Drew into music instead.

We don’t need to make it easier for people to drive when they are under the influence of marijuana — it’s every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. They soon formed 98 Degrees, an R&B-tinged pop group with two other Ohio guys, and sold millions of CDs in the late ’90s — yet somehow still ended up an also-ran to Backstreet Boys and ’NSync during the golden era of boy bands. His 2002 marriage to Simpson — herself a bit of a teen diva also-ran to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — earned them their own reality show. On the surprise hit “Newlyweds,” he played the beleaguered good guy to his wife’s high-maintenance ditz, and suddenly both became tabloid royalty.

But somehow the TV thing stuck, with hosting gigs on competition shows like “Clash of the Choirs” and “The Sing-Off” and a reality show he produced back at his old school in Ohio. Legalizing marijuana will not end the black market — minors will still be able to get it and may be even more emboldened to do so if it is legalized for adults. Even the sports bar he and Drew opened this year in Cincinnati’s hip Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was eventually revealed as the setting for a new A&E reality series, “Lachey’s Bar.” Yelp reviewers may disagree on whether the brothers have any talent in running a restaurant, but there’s no doubt Nick Lachey, now 41, knows his brand.

According to ResponsibleOhio director Ian James, they heard about the opportunity through another client, Rucker, a defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals who used to play for the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Rucker, in turn, was recruited by James Gould, the Cincinnati sports agent and private-equity guy who masterminded this one-of-a-kind ballot initiative, after previous adventures helping Build-A-Bear go public and advising Donald Trump through his ill-fated involvement in the short-lived United States Football League. Gould and James are responsible for transforming Ohio’s marijuana legalization movement from a grass-roots activists’ club to a “suit and tie” operation, funded by bottom-line-minded investors alert to the untapped economic potential of a particularly fragrant cash crop. The concept behind it is not unusual, but the implementation is unique.” An aversion to monopolies has helped power opposition to the initiative, with Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies garnering support from the state Chamber of Commerce, Hospital Association, School Board Association, Farmers Union and Fraternal Order of Police. “People are asking the question, how can somebody put themselves in the constitution exclusively to make money?

James, head of ResponsibleOhio, focuses on the perceived benefits of legalization: economic growth, reduced demands on law enforcement, medicinal benefits, and so on. If voters find those things appealing, he said, they need to be realistic about what it takes to make legalization a reality. “People say, ‘Why don’t you just legalize marijuana and leave it up to the state to determine who gets licenses?’ Okay, but who pays for that? I know the answer,” James said. “Nobody.” But it’s no longer as simple as saying “yes” or “no” to weed: In June, lawmakers threw a wrench into the debate by introducing another measure on the ballot — one asking voters if they want to prohibit anyone from using the state constitution to grant someone a monopoly.

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