In Odd Legalization Campaign, Ohio Voting On Two Marijuana Propositions


Ohio voters go to the polls tomorrow to consider a constitutional amendment to allow marijuana for both medical and personal use. Issue 3, as the proposal is known, is bankrolled by wealthy investors spending nearly $25 million to put it on the ballot, reports the New York Times. If it passes, they would have exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. The proposal has a “strange bedfellows” coalition of opponents: law enforcement officers worried about crime, doctors worried about children's health, state lawmakers, and others who warn that it would embed monopoly in the Ohio Constitution. The result is an odd legalization campaign that pits a new generation of corporate investors against grass-roots advocates.

A University of Akron poll shows voters evenly split. If the proposal passes, Ohio would be the first state to approve marijuana for personal use without first legalizing medical marijuana. That would put Ohio, a swing state, at the forefront of the national movement to overhaul marijuana laws, just in time for the 2016 presidential campaign. Gov. John Kasich, a Republican candidate for president, opposes Issue 3. “If Ohio wins, it will be a significant step forward for the broader movement — nothing will excite attention like that,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which helps lead the national drive for legalization. His group is remaining neutral rather than endorsing Issue 3, he said, “because of the problematic oligopoly provision.” The Ohio General Assembly has put a competing initiative, Issue 2, on the ballot; known as the antimonopoly amendment, it would block Issue 3 by prohibiting the granting of special rights through the state Constitution. There will be a major legal battle if both measures pass.

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