By Michael Lotfi – OHIO, November 4, 2015– On Tuesday, Ohio voters sent a clear message when it came to the legalization of marijuana. In a landslide vote, 64 percent of Ohioans rejected Issue 3, a constitutional amendment proposal that would have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals in favor of legalization chose to vote against Issue 3, which would have made Ohio the first state in in the western United States to approve legalization.
A number of pro-legalization advocates came out against Issue 3 because they believed the initiative would create a de-jure corporate marijuana oligopoly, where only 10 corporations with special connections within the state government would have exclusive rights to grow and cultivate the drug.
Issue 3 would have also authorized up to 1,100 retail outlets and allowed for home growing.
Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said that Issue 3 “was about a flawed measure and a campaign that didn’t represent what voters want… 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.”
Ohioans didn’t say no to legal marijuana tonight (as recent polls show). They rejected a greedy initiative & poor campaign.
— Marijuana Majority (@JoinTheMajority) November 4, 2015
“It’s disgusting to me,” said Sri Kavuru, the head of the pro-legalization group Ohioans to End Prohibition, when he spoke to The Cincinnati Enquirer last month. “The idea that any group or corporation has the exclusive right to grow marijuana and sell it. It’s not plutonium. It’s an agricultural commodity that should be regulated like one.”
Pro-legalization advocates worked hard to convince voters that they wanted legalization, but struggled with the structure of Issue 3.
Ian James, the director of Responsible Ohio, the group organizing the campaign for Issue 3, told NPR, “We are Ohio, folks. We’re not a blue state or a red state. We’re a very purple, middle-of-the-road state…. And that requires that you have a middle-of-the-road approach that doesn’t always sit well with the right and it doesn’t always sit well with the left.”
Millions of dollars were spent by corporate benefactors to pass Issue 3, but the votes from the anti-legalization and anti-oligarchy coalition were too strong to swing the vote in corporate favor.
While acknowledging its pitfalls, Libertarian political pundit and editor Nick Gillespie came out in favor of Issue 3 saying that, “perfect should not be the enemy of good.”
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