Pubdate: Thu, 05 Nov 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch


State Issue 3 Was the Wrong Way to Approach Marijuana Legalization

By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a 
scheme to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. 
There are a variety of reasons for the resounding defeat, but one 
thing is clear: Ohioans felt that Issue 3 was the wrong way to go.

The fact that voters also approved anti-monopoly Issue 2, which will 
make it harder for self-interested parties to amend the Ohio 
Constitution for personal gain, shows that the monopoly aspect was a 
big negative factor that united people across the political and 
ideological spectrum against Issue 3. Even many of those who 
generally favor marijuana legalization chafed at well-heeled backers 
trying to cut themselves a sweetheart deal and enshrine it into the 

The vote wasn't a broad referendum on whether to decriminalize pot. 
An Ohio poll conducted by Quinnipiac in October found that an 
overwhelming 90 percent favored legalizing marijuana for medical use, 
while a slimmer 53 percent majority supported legalization for 
recreational use. Recognizing this, leaders in the Ohio legislature 
now say that the issue of legalizing medical marijuana will be taken up soon.

"Myself and many of my colleagues realize there's tremendous support 
for medical marijuana and something we should have a bigger 
discussion about," said Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, a leader in the Ohio House.

The legislature is a more appropriate venue than the ballot box for 
studying, deliberating and debating the legalization of a drug that 
has big potential downsides and a dearth of legitimate medical study 
to support cure-all claims.

There already is a manmade form of cannabis in pill form called 
Marinol being prescribed by physicians in Ohio and other states where 
medical marijuana is not legal.

Some people lean toward legalization but were uncomfortable with the 
scope of Issue 3, which would have made Ohio the first state in the 
nation to legalize pot both for medical and recreational use in one 
fell swoop. The verdict is still out in the handful of states that 
have approved recreational use after first approving pot for medical 
purposes. Many voters probably felt there was no rush to make Ohio a 
test case before the full effects have been seen in states such as 
Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

Besides, as Ohio Auditor Dave Yost pointed out, Ohio's marijuana laws 
are hardly Draconian. The state long ago made possession of small 
amounts of marijuana a minor misdemeanor. And when employers already 
report having a hard time finding workers who can pass a drug test 
and as law enforcement and society as a whole continue to try to 
fight drunken driving, adding legal marijuana into the mix almost 
certainly would exacerbate such problems. Based on the experience of 
other states, it also would have increased the danger of exposure to children.

Whatever voters' specific reasons, Issue 3 wasn't close anywhere in 
Ohio: it was defeated in all 88 counties.

The voters have spoken on the specifics of Issue 3. It doesn't mean 
the larger issue is settled, but it does allow voters to take a step 
back, study the issue and then make an informed decision that doesn't 
unnecessarily put Ohioans at risk and cut a handful of millionaires a 
special deal.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom