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November 3, 2015

Controversial marijuana reform initiative loses big in Ohio

As reported in this local article, headlined "Ohioans reject legalizing marijuana," the controversial ballot initiative which sought to convince Ohio voters to go from blanket marijuana prohibition to full legalization is losing badly as the votes get counted tonight. Here are the basics:

Ohio voters strongly rejected legalizing marijuana today, despite a $25 miillion campaign by proponents. The Associated Press called State Issue 3 a loser about 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the first results were released by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office.

The issue to legalize pot for recreational and medical use is going down 65 percent to 35 percent, losing in all 88 counties with more than 48 percent of the statewide vote counted.

“At a time when too many families are being torn apart by drug abuse, Ohioans said no to easy access to drugs and instead chose a path that helps strengthen our families and communities,” said Gov. John Kasich in a statement.

Curt Steiner, campaign director for Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, said, “Issue 3 was nothing more and nothing less than a business plan to seize control of the recreational marijuana market in Ohio ... Never underestimate the wisdom of Ohio voters. They saw through the smokescreen of slick ads, fancy but deceptive mailings, phony claims about tax revenues and, of course, Buddie the marijuana mascot.”

However, State Issue 2 is passing 53 percent to 47 percent. Some counties voted against Issue 2, including Athens County. Issue 2 is an amendment proposed by state lawmakers to make it more difficult for special economic interests to amend the Ohio Constitution in the future.

From the very start of the initiative effort, I kept repeating my view that the framing of any marijuana reform proposal in Ohio would likely determine its fate.  Specifically, I thought that if voters saw Issue 3 as a referendum on blanket marijuana prohibition, the issue would have a chance to prevail; if it was seens as a referendum on a corporate take-over of the marijuana movement, it was sure to lose.  Based on the mainsteam and social and activist coverage, it seems many voters who might have supported ending prohibition were too turned off by the ResponsibleOhio model to vote yes on Issue 3.

Because it seems like Issue 3 is going down by a very significant margin, I suspect (and fear) that this result in bellwether Ohio will significantly energize both local and national opponents of marijuana reform.  Indeed, here is the text of an email I already received from SAM, the leading anti-marijuana reform group:

We did it! Despite a flood of celebrity endorsements and being outspent 15 to 1, Ohio voters weren't fooled. Tonight, they defeated legalization by one of the widest margins of victory any marijuana measure has seen in decades.

This is huge! This proves that our movement is thriving -- and we have many more victories in front of us.

A heartfelt thanks to Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, which our SAM Action Ohio affiliate was a big part of, for delivering this important victory tonight.  It proved that legalization is not inevitable, and we will take every grain of knowledge we learned from this campaign into other states moving forward.

I will have lots more coverage and analysis of this notable Ohio result and its local and national implications at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform in the days ahead.

November 3, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

Comments

many families torn apart from marijuana use, is there?

The monopoly angle is attacked here -- https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/02/why-im-voting-for-issue-3-pot-legalizati -- more perfect the enemy of the good stuff there.

The email shows the true target is "legalization" and any margin of victory brought via actual supporters of legalization is akin to Florida Nader voters in 2000.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 3, 2015 10:50:30 PM

The Buckeye state always takes the slow and steady approach to anything new. It'll be back on the ballot again when most of the other states have approved its use or it's found to be a helpful cure for some widespread health malaise affecting its residents.

Posted by: Grant | Nov 4, 2015 6:28:17 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB