Why Ohio's Tuesday pot vote is a game changer

Posted at 5:05 PM, Nov 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-29 16:33:04-05

Always a battleground state, Ohio will be in the spotlight this election day — even in an off-year.

With recreational marijuana use already legalized in four states, and support for recreational use at an all-time high, it’s not surprising that Ohioans will go to the polls Tuesday with the chance to legalize the drug. But Ohio’s plan for legalization seems to be bucking every trend in the book.

Ohio can become the first state in the Union to legalize recreational marijuana use without first legalizing it for medical use. In addition, if passed, Ohio’s marijuana market will be the most highly regulated of any state.



“ResponsibleOhio” is the group pushing legalization in Tuesday’s election, asking supporters to vote “yes” on Issue 3. If the proposal passes, only 10 pre-determined land holders would be permitted to grow marijuana on a large scale, and only 1,100 licenses to retail stores would be distributed in pre-determined cities.

Because only this select group (a group which includes pop singer Nick Lachey and basketball Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson) would stand to profit from the sale of marijuana, a number of pro-legalization groups have been hesitant to show their support for Issue 3. According to the New York Times, The Marijuana Policy Group remains neutral on Issue 3.

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ResponsibleOhio claims the oligopoly model would create hundreds of jobs and more than $500 million in annual tax revenue for the state.

But conservative lawmakers in Ohio (including presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich) have countered with Issue 2. Though this measure doesn’t specifically cover the legalization of marijuana, it would "prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel."

So, what if both Issue 2 and Issue 3 pass on Tuesday? It could lead to a lengthy court battle, and it’s unsure if the sale of marijuana for either medical or recreational use would be upheld.

According to poll data released by Bowling Green State University last week, voters are currently split on Issue 3, with 44 percent supporting the issue and 43 percent opposing it.

Visit the E.W. Scripps Company's Ohio television station websites, and, to follow election outcomes.

How do you feel about Ohio's marijuana legalization plan?



Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.

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