On Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015, the state of Ohio took to the election polls to vote on new proposed recreational cannabis amendments. One of these amendments, Issue 3, gained national attention as it was backed by a handful of wealthy individuals. The results from the election are in, and Issue 3 is out.
Ohio voters shot down Issue 3 with 64% voting No on cannabis legalization (1,977,263 N; 1,105,674 Y).
For the last several months, ResponsibleOhio along with other supporters of Issue 3 have been traveling the state of Ohio on a campaign for legalization. Millions of dollars were injected into both sides of the proposed amendment, but ultimately, the voters decided that this was not the way recreational cannabis should be regulated.
The voters did however pass Issue 2 (1,568,432 Y; 1,465,675 N), which was designed specifically to prohibit monopolies from the state constitution. This would have directly contended with Issue 3, which hoped to “grant a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.”
Anti-Monopoly vs. Pro-Cannabis?
Had both Issue 2 and 3 passed, legislative discrepancies would mean the nullification of certain provisions, and ultimately the start of a lengthy court battle. The outcome of the vote shows that Ohio voters are very much opposed to monopolies, a fear which is present in the future of legal cannabis.
There were several public figures endorsing Issue 3 and cannabis legalization in Ohio. Those “celebrities” supporting the amendment were all financially tied to one of the ten facilities that would have been granted exclusive production of cannabis. The not-so-red-carpet list of celebrities included former NBA players, descendants of President Taft, and ex-boy band member Nick Lachey.
Support from Cannabis Organizations
Despite the awesome star power backing the amendment, voters were not convinced that Issue 3 would fulfill its promise of safe, regulated, and responsible cannabis. Even before the vote, many public advocates of legal cannabis remained neutral due to the proposition of a monopoly.
NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) did publicly endorse Issue 3, but made certain to express it only supported the proposed provisions for assisting patients with immediate access to medicine and reducing youth criminalization for minor cannabis infractions. NORML did not support the idea of a cannabis monopoly. (Technically, the result would have been an oligopoly composed of several  independent businesses working closely to control a market).
Supporters of Issue 3 pumped millions of dollars into the campaign, and despite Tuesday’s defeat, they say they will continue to fight for cannabis in Ohio. Hopefully next time, they don’t spend so much time and money sending mascots like Buddie to convince the public of responsible cannabis.
Ohio will continue to propose sensible cannabis legislation, and Smoke Reports will continue following updates in the state. For the most up to date info on Smoke Reports, follow us on Twitter @smokereports or like us on our Facebook page.