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Ohio Voters Reject ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative

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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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