Score one for prohibitionists. Last night Ohio’s Issue 3 went down to a crushing defeat; not only that, but Issue 2 passed, making it even harder to attempt legalization in the state in the future.
As a vocal supporter of Issue 3, I must say: the defeat was total and the destruction complete. The “yes” vote didn’t reach 36%, meaning the measure lost by almost 30 percentage points. Looked at another way, the measure lost by roughly 872,000 votes out of a little over 3 million. That is a landslide of epic proportions.
It is a turn of events that has many in the activist community cheering the continued prohibition of cannabis in Ohio. Instead of getting legalization passed and then making it better, they chose to keep the status quo. No medical marijuana, no retail stores, no legal home growing, continued arrests and tickets for marijuana offenses. They will wait for something “better,” which will likely be a more restrained offering from the investors of ResponsibleOhio, the evil boogeyman behind Issue 3. Maybe home growing won’t even make the cut this time; something to appeal to independent voters worried about rampant marijuana grows in their neighborhood.
To make matter worse, Issue 2 passed; this means the Ohio Board of Elections will have greatly enhanced power over choosing what makes it to the ballot and what doesn’t.
Can RO come back in the next year or two and learn from their mistakes? Maybe. After all, rich people don’t need guaranteed farms. They can just buy licenses like everyone else. Under any legalization plan a license to grow commercially will probably not come cheap.
Would things be better without a silly mascot and during a Presidential election year? Probably so. But the immense nature of last night’s defeat will be fresh in everyone’s mind.
On the bright side, there are rumblings of possible action in the state legislature on medical marijuana. A MMJ law will likely be quite restrictive, but it will be better than nothing.