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Ohio Says ‘No’ To Legal Weed Monopoly

Photo by John Minchillo


Ohio Says ‘No’ To Legal Weed Monopoly

Proponents of Ohio’s Issue 3, a sweeping ballot initiative that would have taken the state from total prohibition to full medical and recreational legalization overnight, faced a crushing defeat at the polls – roughly two “No” votes for every “Yes.”

The majority of the controversy surrounding the issue wasn’t about its stated goal of legalization, which most Ohioans support, but the restricted market it would have created by only allowing for 10 officially licensed grow sites.

Opponents of the law considered this a de facto monopoly and raised ethical concerns about awarding the sites to the investors who funded the Yes On 3 campaign. Voters further rejected Issue 3 and signaled their reasons by approving Issue 2, written specifically to explicitly prevent the creation of monopolies like the one proposed by 3.

None of this surprised NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, who said the “majority of the debate” about Issue 3 was about the “proposed market model.”

“It remains clear that a majority of Ohioans support ending criminal marijuana prohibition for adults, and patients in particular,” he said.  “[But] most voters want the free market, not an artificially restricted one dictated by special interests, to govern this emerging marketplace.”

ResponsibleOhio, the organization behind Issue 3, deferred Cannabis Now’s request for comment to an optimistic, but ultimately noncommittal official statement by its Executive Director Ian James.

“We trust the voters. We started the conversation and we’re going to continue the conversation starting tomorrow,” he said. “Ohioans still need treatment and deserve compassionate care. And our state needs the jobs and tax revenue that marijuana legalization will bring.”

The statement doesn’t explicitly state if the group will have another ballot initiative in 2016 and the group says its unwilling to elaborate on what plans, if any, are in the works for next year.

Why do you think Ohio’s cannabis initiative failed? Tell us in the comments.

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