What's up with Ohio? How did they blow their bid for marijuana legalization?
AFTER NOVEMBER'S election day, marijuana is still not legal in Ohio, and that might be for the best. Although it's always sort of sad to see a legalization measure fail, it was hard to get behind Ohio's Issue 3—even though it would have legalized both medical and recreational pot in the state.
First, the measure was pure crony capitalism, and none too subtle about it. Issue 3 would have gifted its small pool of financial backers a monopoly over weed production throughout the entire state. One of those investors was Ohio native Nick Lachey of boy band 98 Degrees. (Remember him?) Others were designer Nanette Lepore, retired pro baller Oscar Robertson, and descendants of President William Howard Taft. Under the measure, every state-regulated shop would have been constitutionally bound to purchase bud from just 10 farms, all owned by a state-sanctioned cartel (of dorks). Reports projected annual cartel revenues at more than $1 billion.
Second, the Issue 3 campaign engaged in some questionable and tone-deaf behavior. Even as its staff preached keeping pot away from kids, the campaign rolled out its awful mascot, "Buddie." Buddie was a superhero cannabis bro whose head was a bud. He also wore a cape and sported six-pack abs. Because Buddie looked kid friendly—à la Joe Camel—children's advocates across the state targeted the campaign.
Third, Issue 3 was probably too much too soon. No state has legalized recreational marijuana without first experimenting with a medical marijuana regime, as we did here in Oregon. Going all-in in the Heartland was probably not the savviest political calculus.
Finally, we are in an off-year election cycle, which generally means that fewer people (especially fewer young people) turn out to vote. Because older voters tend to lean toward marijuana prohibition, the timing for Issue 3 was poor.
Regardless of what occurred in Ohio, at least four other states that have already legalized medical marijuana are now candidates for legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016: California, Nevada, Maine, and Arizona. California has a few initiatives that will surely compete against each other, but Nevada and Arizona have honed their initiatives into single ballot measures that both stand a good chance of success. Those initiatives have neither cartels nor Buddie.
So don't worry about marijuana in Ohio. Issue 3 will not be the last marijuana legalization measure the state sees in coming years, although it may be the only one that doesn't pass. As Nick Lachey nobly tweeted in defeat, "While I may not agree, the people of Ohio have spoken and that's the way it's supposed to work. Change takes time." And maybe better judgment, too.
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