When Responsible Ohio first announced its plans to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2015 Ohio ballot, it almost instantly drew boos and hisses from the marijuana reform community. The first version of ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization initiative did not include a provision for home cultivation. ResponsibleOhio, to its credit, listened to the feedback and re-wrote the initiative to include a home cultivation provision. I have to assume that the provision was added in the hopes that it would make the for-profit cultivation provisions of the initiative more palatable.
The word monopoly was used a lot when referring to the initiative during its campaign. The Ohio Supreme court even ensured that the word monopoly appeared on voter ballots, despite the campaigns objections. The initiative does not in fact create a monopoly for growing. What it does is create ten cultivation sites across Ohio that will house all of the marijuana cultivation for-profit grow sites for the state. So the initiative essentially creates an oligarchy of cultivation sites, but not a monopoly of cultivation in general.
The part of the campaign that I think infuriated long time activists the most was the use of ‘Buddie’ the marijuana mascot. I still can’t wrap my head around how the campaign thought that was a good idea. Like I said when I first heard about it, marijuana mascots are gimmicks, and campaigns don’t need gimmicks. A marijuana mascot is fine at a Cannabis Cup event, but is not the best way to convince voters. The campaign would have been better served just focusing on the issues in my opinion. Marijuana prohibition is a terrible thing, and using facts to support that claim has been more than enough in other states that have legalized, and I think would have been good enough for Ohio.
On 2015 Ohio Election Eve, many people have already cast their ballots. I have received a flood of e-mails from readers stating how they voted and why, not just on Issue 3 (marijuana legalization), but also how they voted on Issue 2, which could nullify some or all of Issue 3 in the event that both pass. In the event that both pass, there will be a lengthy legal battle, and could prevent implementation of some of the Issue 3 provisions, if not all of them. We will just have to wait and see.
An activist that I admire a lot, Tom Angell, posted on his Facebook page yesterday his prediction of the outcome of the Issue 3 vote, and asked others to post their predictions in the comments of his post. It was a very interesting thread to read, with many long time activists posting their predictions. I didn’t post my prediction, mainly because I didn’t want to have to field Facebook notifications for the next however long, but I personally feel that the initiative is going to pass by a hair, 51-49, and that Issue 2 will also pass by a similar margin, and that the legal battle I mentioned previously will take its course.
Polling has been all over the place with Issue 3, and as Ethan Nadelmann pointed out in an article for CNN, with such low voter turnout expected in this election cycle in Ohio, polls are going to be unreliable. So anyone’s guess is going to be as good as the next person’s as far as if it will win or lose, but I think that either way it ends up, it will be close. I could of course be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!), but that’s my opinion. I do know that if the initiative fails, there is no excuse for any activist or organization to leave Ohio behind. With everything that has been said, and all the support that was withheld, all in the name of ‘the next initiative,’ that next initiative better come, or I will have lost a lot of faith in the marijuana reform community, especially with national organizations. Barring any recounts, all should be known tomorrow with Ohio, for better or worse depending on what side of the initiative you are on.
What do TWB readers think? Do you think that Issue 3 will pass? Why or why not? Do you think that Issue 2 will pass? Why or why not? And if both pass, what do you think will be the outcome of the inevitable legal challenge?