The ResponsibleOhio campaign has had a lot of bad PR since the campaign started. The main outrage came from a lack of home cultivation provision in the initiative’s language, and the fact that cultivation for profit would be given to just ten entities. The campaign revamped the initiative’s language to allow a home cultivation provision, but the initiative still only allows ten entities to grow marijuana for profit should the initiative become law. There is an attempt right now in Ohio’s Legislature to ban such monopolies in Ohio, which would effectively derail the initiative.
Something else that may derail the initiative is a recent raid this week against one of the investors for ResponsibleOhio. The FBI raided Evans Landscaping, owned by Douglas Evans, which is one of the ten entities that would be granted a growers license if ResponsibleOhio passed. Below is more information about the raid, via Cincinnati.Com:
The landscaping company raided by FBI agents Tuesday morning is enmeshed in a lawsuit alleging fraud involving a contract with a minority-owned business on public projects.
The lawsuit claims Evans Landscaping is at the heart of a “malicious civil conspiracy” regarding contracts with both the state of Ohio and the city of Cincinnati. The suit alleges Evans Landscaping officials improperly took public money meant for a minority-owned contractor. Evans Landscaping has also sued, claiming lack of payment from that contractor.
The FBI would not say why it raided Evans Landscaping.
At this point, I don’t think that anyone knows for sure why the raid occurred. Yes, there has been talk about it being a fraud investigation, but how Evans Landscaping fits into that investigation is not clear. But, regardless, I think that a lot of PR damage was done with the raid. The initiative was already looked upon by many with suspicion, and having one of the ten entities that would get in on the marijuana-for-profit monopoly in Ohio raided as part of a fraud investigation can’t help, no matter how the company is tied into the investigation. Opponents of the initiative, from outside and within the marijuana community, will now point to this incident over and over as a reason to not trust the campaign.