Even though supporters of legalized marijuana out spent their opponents 20-1, voters across Ohio soundly rejected Issue 3 at the polls on Tuesday. However, supporters have already begun work to bring the proposal back to the ballot in 2016. Proponents of the legislation say they will pursue a more conventional legalization plan that doesn’t give exclusive growing right to private investors.
Leaders of the Responsible Ohio (RO) movement say they will not give up on the campaign to legalize the drug in Ohio. RO Executive Director Ian James issued the following statement, “We trust the voters. We started the conversation, and we’re going to continue the conversation starting tomorrow. The status quo doesn’t work, it’s unacceptable and we’re not going away. All the things we’ve fought for are true. Ohioans still need treatment and deserve compassionate care. And our state needs the jobs and tax revenue that marijuana legalization will bring.” Polls conducted before the election revealed that the majority of Ohio voters do support marijuana legalization, but were opposed to the establishment of a monopoly in the state’s constitution. That opposition resulted in Issue 3 failing by almost a 2 to 1 margin.
“A vote no on issue 3 is a vote against big money and a vote for our kids,” said Adams County Sheriff Kimmy Rogers, “with issue 3 you just had to follow the money to know what was going on.”
Ohio voters voiced their objections loud and clear by casting their votes to ban constitutional monopolies that would create a state of limited competition in which the market is shared by a small number of growers. The passage of Issue 2 prevents monopolies being written into the state’s constitution by individuals seeking to promote their own private economic interest, or to reward individuals or groups who fund ballot initiatives, such as Issue 3.
Curt Steiner, campaign director for Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, released the following statement:
“I wish to acknowledge that a number of voters on the side that didn’t prevail tonight have strong feelings about a couple of issues in particular: legal reform – and the availability of medical marijuana. Those issues got overshadowed during this debate. Overshadowed by the brazen nature and far-reaching extent of the statewide money grab attempted by Issue 3 backers — an attempt voters concluded was, in this instance, an unsavory abuse of the ballot issue process.”
Despite the crushing defeat of Issue 3, several state lawmakers, including Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger-R (District 91), who have been staunchly opposed to legalization now say it is probably time to look at legalizing medical marijuana.
“After going through this process, myself and many of my colleagues realize there’s tremendous support for medical marijuana and something we should have a bigger discussion about,” said Rep. Ryan Smith, R-(District 93).
Medical marijuana has been proven effective for people with various debilitating diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTST), hypothyroidism, alcoholism, anorexia, anxiety disorders, arthritis, asthma, angina pectoris, lyme disease, lymphoma, Lou Gehrig’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, malignant melanoma, hemophilia-A, Grave’s disease, epilepsy, gastritis, headaches, Tourette’s Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV, nerve pain, and glaucoma, and many more.
The four other states that have legalized marijuana – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – first established programs to permit people to get medical marijuana to treat illnesses.
Issue 3 asked Ohioans to make a huge jump from prohibition to full legalization.
University of Cincinnati Political Science professor David Niven said, “We are not California. We’re not the vanguard of hippiedom, It’s a leap to go from no legal marijuana to full legal marijuana.”
Ohioans were clearly not ready to make that leap, though there are indications that they are willing to consider medical marijuana.