In just two days from now, Ohio voters will cast their votes for or against various measures. The two that the marijuana community around the country will be watching closely will be Issue 2 and Issue 3. Issue 3 would legalize marijuana possession, consumption, and cultivation in Ohio. Homes with adults over 21 would be able to grow up to four plants for personal use, and for-profit cultivation would have to occur on ten designated properties. Issue 2, if passed, would nullify some or all of Issue 3 if both measures passed. We will have to wait for a lengthy legal battle to ensue and wrap up before we find out how the dust would settle if/when both measures pass.
The Ohio legalization initiative, if passed, would create a lot of firsts in marijuana reform, as outlined by the great Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a recent article on CNN:
Issue 3 is a first in many respects: the first marijuana reform campaign funded almost entirely by “investors” who would benefit financially from the initiative, the first initiative to restrict commercial production to a limited number of sites owned by the major investors in the ballot initiative, and the first to appear simultaneously on the ballot with another initiative — Issue 2 — that seeks to nullify the legalization initiative. If Issue 3 wins, it would make Ohio the first state to legalize marijuana without first legalizing it only for medical purposes.
Ethan Nadelmann expressed in the article that he is not publicly opposing or endorsing Issue 3. There was a lot of opposition to the measure among national reform leaders, and still is, but more and more national reformers have come out recently in support of the initiative for one reason or another. I have always felt that guidance and opinions from non-Ohio residents is great for facilitating conversation, but at the end of the day, this is an election decision that will be made by Ohio voters, so opinions of those outside of Ohio should be taken with a grain of salt.
Polling for the initiative has been all over the place, with some polling showing a clear victory for Issue 3, while others showing it too close to call. Like I’ve told people via Twitter and Facebook, you can’t vote ‘undecided’ on Election Day, and the initiative obviously will need over 50% to win, so polls are not as useful right now as some are making them out to be because some of them show such a low level of support, and high levels of ‘undecided’ voters. All will be known in 2 days, or close to two days if the results are tight and an official determination lingers. One thing is for sure – all eyes are on Ohio this week.
Regardless of how the initiative turns out, I hope that a lot of the tension that has been present in Ohio subsides, and people are able to put their differences aside. I have heard about a lot of friendships that have been tarnished during this campaign, and a lot of hateful/hurtful things have been said, and that makes me sad. When the reform community has a lot of infighting, the only people that win are prohibitionists. That’s not to say that people need to blindly follow what other say, because this is a free country. However, it’s possible to oppose or support something without trying to rip the other side to shreds. I saw similar things happened in Washington in 2012, and a lot of those tensions still exist.