Last night Issue 3 tanked at the ballot box by basically at 64-36 margin, much to the disappointment of a few very wealthy people. Despite outspending their opponents almost 16-1, Issue 3 supporters could not manage to convince the Ohio electorate to adopt its vision for cannabis legalization. So what now?
There may very well be other initiatives on the ballot in 2016, including those sponsored by Legalize Ohio 2016 and the Ohio Rights Group. Even ResponsibleOhio has said that it will be back next year with a revamped initiative:
[Ian] James and Jimmy Gould, a former Cincinnati sports agent who co-founded ResponsibleOhio, said Tuesday legalization won’t come from the Statehouse.
Gould said ResponsibleOhio will “put up whatever money we need to put up” to pass a new initiative.
“We will learn from what the voters have said tonight, we will return with a plan for everybody, changes the status quo, takes our streets back, gives medical marijuana to the people who need it and we will do everything we can to have a regulated system so people can benefit from it,” Gould said.
I’m not so sure that Gould’s right about the Ohio General Assembly continuing to cede this territory to the ballot initiative process. As a candidate for the Ohio Senate last year, I called on the legislature to act before we ended up with an inflexible regulatory scheme built into the Ohio Constitution (fast forward to the 33-minute mark). It sounds like that’s just what might happen:
Indeed, the rejection of Issue 3 probably had more to do with how cannabis would be legalized, as opposed to whether it would occur, as Mark Naymik correctly points out on Cleveland.com, stating that last night’s results “should not be seen as a legislative victory or even an honest reflection of Ohio voters’ views on legalization. Issue 3 failed because the ballot issue before voters became more about how to legalize marijuana, not whether or not to legalize it.”
Only time will tell what the future holds for the legalization of cannabis in Ohio, whether for medicinal or recreational use. One thing is for certain, however: the issue is not going away.
UPDATE [ 11/4/15 12:18pm]:
Some additional statements from the Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, via Jeremy Pelzer with Northeast Ohio Media Group: