Ohioans Reject Marijuana, Monopolies

Photo via flickr user Mark Strozier
Photo via flickr user Mark Strozier

By Joan Eberhardt

Ohio legalization amendment fails soundly


Voters in Ohio yesterday soundly rejected a measure that would have taken marijuana from illegal, to legal medically and recreationally in one vote. The measure would have legalized cannabis, while installing a preordained list of growers into the state constitution, effectively creating a legal cartel.

While polls showed that Ohio voters supported legalizing cannabis, there was very little support for the part of the measure that would have created a monopoly on commercial growing in the state. The monopoly, rather than fears about cannabis itself and its effect on society, is very likely what killed the vote.

Issue 3, had it passed, would have given exclusive, perpetual, growing rights to the ten organizations that helped fund in the initiative in the first place. Wealthy investors, including former-98th Degree Nick Lachey, came from across the country in what many voters saw as a way to take control of the marijuana industry in the state. ResponsibleOhio, the organization pushing the amendment, insisted that it would not create a monopoly and that the way it was worded on the ballot was to blame for any misunderstandings.

In an effort to curb the Issue’s 3 potential success, the Republican-led State House scuttled together Issue 2 for the same ballot. Issue 2 would have banned monopolies outright. Had both Issues 2 and 3 passed, it would go to the legislature, and very likely a lengthy court battle.

Issue 2, the one banning monopolies, squeaked by with a 7 percent victory margin.

Issue 3, the one that would have legalized cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, while creating a monopoly on growing operations, was rejected with 65 percent of voters opposed and 35 percent of voters in favor.

Here’s hoping legal cannabis proponents come back to Ohio in time for next November’s presidential election (which has historically higher voter turnout) with a better plan.

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