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Ohio Voters Reject ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative


ohio signIt appears that the Ohio marijuana legalization initiative, Issue 3, has lost. The final tallies will take awhile, but there are enough ballots counted and such a wide margin of defeat that the math shows the writing on the wall. It looks like the initiative is going to lose by a large margin. The big question that I’m sure most marijuana activists are thinking (and Ohio marijuana consumers), is ‘where does Ohio go from here?’

The most common answer to that question I would assume would be ‘what about 2016?’ 2016 is certainly possible, but it’s not that far away, and there are only a handful of months to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. It’s possible, but it will take a ton of money, and a lot of feet hitting the pavement with clipboards in hand to gather signatures.

It’s time for all marijuana activists to put their money where their mouth is. Or clicks. Or volunteer hours. Or whatever they can offer. Ohio cannot be left behind. There were very few national marijuana reform organizations that supported Issue 3, all of which said that Ohio could do better. Well, now it’s time to prove it. I challenge all national organizations to band together to bring an end to marijuana prohibition in Ohio. The same goes for activists that publicly opposed the effort.

No one has any excuse for not following through on their words leading up to Election Day 2015 in Ohio. I’m fine with people having their opinions, and voting the way they want, or having the political stance that they do. That’s what makes America great. What I’m not OK with is people sitting on their butts trying to tear down other people’s efforts without putting in the leg work to make better efforts become a reality. Anyone who opposed Issue 3, yet doesn’t do everything that they can to help get legalization on the ballot again in a better form, is a jerk in my book.

The next Ohio legalization effort starts now. Right now. Activists in Ohio need to get organized, and national organizations and activists need to back them up. It’s that simple. Obviously there is interest in marijuana legalization in Ohio, and victory can be achieved if everyone works together. This initiative was rejected, but that doesn’t mean that a better one can’t win. Kevin Sabet and his spin doctors will tell you otherwise, but we all know how out of touch Kevin Sabet is. If people and organizations drag their feet, 2016 will come and go, at which point the next Presidential election year won’t be until 2020, which is when national funders like to traditionally fund marijuana reform campaigns. Ohio patients and consumers don’t deserve to wait that long. In the case of many patients, they can’t wait that long. We all owe it to Ohio to not leave them behind. I will fight as hard as I can from Oregon to help. Everyone should be experience the freedoms that I experience in my home state.

I want to thank the ResponsibleOhio campaign for making marijuana legalization in Ohio a major issue. People can say what they want about the initiative’s model, and about how the campaign was ran, but no one can deny that the topic of marijuana reform in Ohio is as salient with Ohio residents as ever. While I did not agree with everything in the initiative, and certainly didn’t agree with ‘Buddie’ the marijuana mascot, I did support the campaign’s end result of keeping people out of jail, and helping patients get safe access to medicine. The amount of grief and hate that was directed at ResponsibleOhio was like nothing I have ever seen since I started this blog in 2010, and I think while some of it was warranted, a lot of it was disgusting and ridiculous, so I tip my hat to the ResponsibleOhio campaign staff for taking all of that flack.

It’s tough to say if this is a rejection of the ‘investor model’ of marijuana legalization since the voter turnout was so low in Ohio, and it’s the 2015 election cycle, and Ohio is a bit unique in some regards. I guess we will see if people with deep pockets in other states try to run similar initiatives. Ohio will never see an initiative like this one again with such a resounding defeat and the apparent passage of Issue 2, much to the delight of marijuana activists. I would imagine that the results in Ohio are not going to help sway any other investors into pooling together tens of millions of dollars for a legalization initiative like this one in other states.

I hope that Ohio marijuana advocates, and advocates at the national level, can heal some of the wounds and fix some of the relationships that were severed during this election cycle. We all want an end to marijuana prohibition, and while we disagree about what that looks like, we need to band together in order to achieve the end result. Debate is fine. Hate is not. Hopefully time will heal the problems caused by the tension, and we can all get to work on legalizing marijuana in Ohio sooner rather than later, because Ohio patients and consumers are depending on it! Legalize it!

Below is a reaction from Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority:

“When it comes to the broader debate about legalizing marijuana, the defeat of Issue 3 won’t be a case of ‘as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.’ This was about a flawed measure and a campaign that didn’t represent what voters want. Tonight’s results — and the choices that inevitably led up to them —  are especially sad for Ohioans who use marijuana and will continue to be treated like criminals for no good reason. And this is particularly heartbreaking for those who need medical cannabis to treat serious ailments.
“It’s a shame Ohio voters didn’t have the opportunity to consider sensible legalization in 2015. Hopefully it’ll only be another election cycle or two until a more responsible team secures enough funding to put a better initiative on the ballot. Perhaps even the same group of investors cares enough about the real reasons for legalization to humbly receive the message Ohio voters just sent and try again in 2016 with a smarter proposal that establishes a more fairly regulated market.
“Several polls leading up to Election Day showed that a clear majority of Ohioans support legalizing marijuana, but voters won’t tolerate this issue being taken over by greedy special interests. Our ongoing national movement to end marijuana prohibition is focused on civil rights, health and public safety, not profits for small groups of investors. This campaign also turned off many long-time legalization advocates by irresponsibly using a marijuana superhero mascot as a prop, which unnecessarily stoked our opponents’ fears about marketing to kids.
“A majority of Americans support legalization, and that’s why we’re going to see a large number of states voting on — and passing — truly responsible marijuana ballot measures next year.”


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  • Sean

    JT, these turkeys that voted for Thanksgiving are part of a 5th column that became imbedded in the cannabis movement. That’s what the fascist prohibitionists like Kevin Sabet have accomplished. It’s a disease that’s destroying the movement and these jackals use buzz words like “monopoly”, Monsanto and others to convince people to vote on their own criminality. It is asymmetric warfare.

  • jontomas

    No. We all had a dog in that fight. As Russ Belville said, with that one event, the reform organizations forever lost the moral high ground by turning their backs on Ohio marijuana consumers.

  • jontomas

    Allowed it? They already approved it. There were already deals signed to sublease or sell to various growers and researchers. Did you really not know that?

  • jontomas

    Crazy. – Almost always, the banking district is concentrated in two or three blocks of a town, very likely leasing from the same property owner.

    Do you think there’s no competition between those banks?

  • jontomas

    It’s amazing to see all these crocodile tears over the very temporary advantage R.O. would have had. Two, three years at most, before the national marijuana market takes over. – And hundreds of thousands of Ohio marijuana consumers will now have to be criminals for years to come for – nothing really.

  • jontomas

    Of course they cared about consumer freedom. I heard their interviews and it was clear they were vitally interested in that. – These people had far safer and better ways to invest their money.

    As it is, they lost more than $20 million. They could have just bought an office building and done a lot better.

  • jontomas

    There’s not a lot of difference between “prevent” and making them MUCH more difficult.

  • jontomas

    No. As you say, the voters were not stupid. They knew R.O. would make a profit in return for marijuana consumers’ freedom, and would have been okay with that. But the incredibly massive, corrupt campaign of deception was more than they could handle.

    Issue 2 was the Mother of all deceptions. The voter’s did not see through the smoke screens to realize they were giving away their already tiny voice in government.

  • jontomas

    Nonsense. – The brief advantage R.O. investors would have had was a small price to pay for giving hundreds of thousands of Ohio marijuana consumers their freedom.

  • jontomas

    No. R.O. was totally transparent. They were offering the incredible freedom of marijuana consumers in return for a brief advantage in the market.

    If they had not been bombarded with the massive campaign of deception, voters would have naturally taken this bargain.

  • jontomas

    Right. Also because the national marijuana market will soon arrive and sweep all local arrangements away.

    Willie’s Reserve and Marley Natural are far into the planning stages, and ready to move next November.

    Check out their web sites.

  • jontomas

    Corruption? LOL!!!!
    In my life, I have never seen such an unholy, corrupt alliance as the Ohio state legislature, prohibition forces, and the greedy, black-market growers.

    They all worked together to fool voters about the real nature of Issue 3. Not business, not who gets rich. But simply one question:

    Should adult marijuana consumers be punished or not?

    The great coalition of corruption deceived and distracted the voters into thinking it was about something else. And the major reform orgs sat on their hands and watched as the freedom of Ohio marijuana consumers went down in flames.

    As Russ Belville said, with this one event, reform forever lost the moral high ground.

  • jontomas

    Easy to say.

  • jontomas

    No. That was what people like you fooled the voters into thinking. Marijuana consumers would have been tickled pink, even if legalization included the state growing and selling all the marijuana – similar to the way some states have state-run liquor stores. Issue 3 provide exponentially more general economic opportunity than that.

    Marijuana was never about the money or the “business.” It was about ending the war on marijuana consumers – period. – Issue 3 would have done that.

    If marijuana reform cannot break loose from the spell of greed, they will be sitting ducks for Kevin Sabet’s “Big Marijuana” scare, and will be easily shot down.

    Get back to the basics – the consumers – or you will have gone down a long, dark, dead-end road.

  • Lucas Leach

    Yea they said no because no to this issue 3 was the right choice

  • stellarvoyager

    Whatever the reasons are that it failed, it will be spun as a defeat for legalization. And you can’t deny that the result will be more people like the lady I described having their families torn apart and their lives ruined needlessly. So I guess the wrong people making money is more of a concern than stopping the abuse of poor communities and communities of color. And it was their last opportunity to legalize, now that issue 2 has passed. Ohio’s next opportunity to legalize marijuana won’t happen for another decade or more. In fact, Ohio will still be illegal even after federal prohibition has ended. This was their golden opportunity, and they blew it. Now, Ohio will simply be written off. Whatever, they made their bed, so they can lie in it. I don’t have a dog in that show, since I don’t live there.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    There was a pretty liberal right to grow provision, 4 flowering plants, 8 ounces of stash, and I think no limit on immature plants (not sure of that). The cannabis community could have organized to maximize that right, with seed giveaways, growing advice and trying to find places to grow for people who couldn’t do it where they live.
    But this is all kind of water under the bridge now.

    Ohio cannabis consumers are still a lot luckier than many others, they still have the power to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, and a less self-serving proposal would probably pass. RO may come up with one themselves next year.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    Legalization in a corrupt environment is not the end of the fight.

    Does anyone think it is, or would have been in Ohio? If Issue 3 passed, the struggle for more equitable commercial growing rights would have begun. .
    The reform community was split on this, but like Johnny Green is saying, the focus has to be on the future. Surprisingly, RO says they’ll be back next year, apparently in compliance with Issue 2, so the people saying reform in dead in Ohio for a long time may be wrong.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    The Ohio legislature is being inhuman in not approving medicinal marijuana. And they’re being fascists, because 90% of Ohio voters want it legal.

  • Jay Kmonk

    So True!! I’m an independent who can’t stand either the Extreme Left or the Extreme Right. Both are horrible and the worst of it is that you can’t get elected anymore if you are a common-sense moderate. To get elected, you now have to be an extremist, which is why the parties are so far apart on every issue. We need a 3rd option; I think a Common Sense party would crush the other two. Might not ever happen because the other two dominate the money.

  • Jay Kmonk

    That’s ridiculous. Issue 3 failed because of the monopoly provision and you know it.

  • Jay Kmonk

    Agree 100%. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that these 10 sponsors joined together as one? This isn’t 10 guys who were going to go out and compete against each other. You could compare it to 10 guys who each owned a franchise stake under one corporation that had a monopoly position. It doesn’t make any sense that they would be competing against each other across 88 counties. Unless they were stupid, they would simply divide up the counties and each would run his counties with no competition whatsoever. Business 101.

  • Jay Kmonk

    Hornet, I agree that the monopoly aspect is what blew apart Issue 3 and I also agree that it’s not fair to call opponents of Issue 3 ignorant and “jerks”. It’s the responsibility of voters to inform themselves and vote down corrupt initiatives. Nothing wrong with that. However, you misinterpreted Issue 2, which does not prevent future initiatives.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    That’s not correct, it would also have ended for those who grow their own, or have kind relatives, friends or neighbors who can grow for them.

    And how long do you think RO’s oligopoly would have lasted? It’s so widely unpopular, it probably would have lasted only a couple of years, and they would deserve that for doing what no one else in Ohio seems close to having the power to do.

  • Jay Kmonk

    Quote from the story: “Anyone who opposed Issue 3, yet doesn’t do everything that they can to help get legalization on the ballot again in a better form, is a jerk in my book”. That’s pretty bizarre and mean … to be calling voters “jerks” for voting down a flawed initiative that was based solely on Raw Greed and Corruption. The sponsors of Issue 3 didn’t give a rat’s ass about the public … it was a Money Grab on a grand scale. They wanted the voters to hold their nose and hand them a monopoly on a Silver Platter, so they could become rich beyond their wildest dreams. The voters are not that stupid … and they are not “jerks”.

  • Susie

    I’ve seen love ones suffer & still suffering do to health problems & watch love ones pass away from pills!? We should of just had medical on Issue 3… To me that’s the most important reason is to save lifes! So many family’s were praying to come back home to Ohio do to have to relocate for medical marijuana for their young children with seizures & other medical problems for people! The hole thing is just so sad!