Ohio’s Issue 3 Goes Down Hard
By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Ohio took a shot at legalizing marijuana yesterday, and fell far short. They were so far short that they not only failed to pass a voter initiative, the electorate voted to ban monopolistic control over markets that deal in controlled substances…most specifically, Cannabis. So, not only did Ohio fail with a yes vote of only 36%, they managed to put a major roadblock in the way of future legalization efforts for medical or recreational by passing the opposing measure, Issue 2.
Lets break this down into the major parts that were at play in the failure of Issue 3 on November 3rd.
First, the measure was too broad for a state like Ohio.
Issue 3, created by Responsible Ohio, legalized both medical and recreational simultaneously, a bold move for sure. But, was that the right move in a Midwestern, rust-belt state like Ohio? With the poor results seen Tuesday, it appears it may not have been.
In every state, even in liberal states like California and Oregon, initiatives that are controversial tend to struggle at the ballot box in non-presidential election years. Recent examples just concerning marijuana include : Oregon’s Measure 74 in 2010 for medical dispensaries (only 44% yes), California Prop 19 in 2010 for full legalization (only 34% yes), Florida’s Amendment 2 for medical use in 2014 (only 58% and needed 60%).
Second, the measure sharply divided the pro-marijuana crowd across Ohio.
With the oligopoly set up by the measure, Issue 3 would have created only 10 properties in the state allowed to grow marijuana. Though over a thousand independent dispensaries were called for, and edible manufacturers, concentrate makers, and many other businesses would have no restrictions like the growers, the outcries from small farm marijuana supporters was loud and fierce…no big business control of marijuana in Ohio!” The same factor was at play in California in 2010, and they failed miserably, too.
In fact, the monopolistic flavor of the bill and broad legalization spurred the opposition to create a competing bill, Issue 2, that restricts monopolies from operating in the state and would have made Issue 3 a moot point, if it had passed. Issue 2 was successful and the stiff rules regarding monopolies are now in place, making future legalization efforts in Ohio more difficult.
Last, and most importantly, Ohio has an abysmal voter turnout in odd year elections.
Five times in the past 20 years Ohio had a voter turnout rate of less than 37% and every time it was an off year, and odd year election. In 2007, turnout was so bad it was below 27% of registered voters. The turnout number is important. It shows the number of people that are already registered to vote who actually show up to cast a ballot in that election.
How important is voter turnout? Huge! Oregon passed Measure 91 in 2014, an off year election(non-presidential), but we were also electing our Governor, a U.S. Senator, and every Oregon Representative in Congress. Even many local elections were held for city councils, sheriffs, and mayors, which is typical in even numbered non-presidential election years.
But the biggest advantage Oregon has over all the other states is their citizen empowering vote by mail system. Oregon has no polling places and everyone either mails in their ballot or they drop it off at one of hundreds of locations. Everyone votes by mail, not just absentee ballots. It’s simple and effective.
After a look at the biggest factors behind the Ohio marijuana initiative, it becomes apparent that Issue 3 was doomed from the beginning. If you start with the broadness and magnitude of the measure, sprinkle on some discontent within the marijuana community, and smother it in voter apathy, you get a large portion of humble pie served up to the marijuana movement.
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