Ohio Marijuana: The future will tell!
The people will have their say once more, this November—it is the ongoing battle for the full legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis, as Ohio marijuana gains a spot on this year’s ballot. But will the pro-cannabis movement be able to garner the support it needs?
Along the surface, the answer to the marijuana Ohio question may seem obvious.
There is already an overwhelming amount of residents who view Ohio medical marijuana favorably—a viable treatment option for patients across the state. According to one statewide medical marijuana Ohio poll, it was determined that 87 percent of Ohio voters believe that medical marijuana should be legalized.
In addition, ResponsibleOhio—a political action committee composed of marijuana advocates from all sides, including medical professionals, people in business, and advocates for patients—has done more than just rally voters and gain extra signatures.
The PAC has raised a whopping $36 million from investors for commercial growing efforts, as well as the campaigning that is necessary to ensure that the issue is not only on this year’s ballot, but that it also has a real chance of passing.
Watch this clip of the Late Show to see Steven Colbert’s take on the Ohio marijuana issue – and meet “Buddy,” the marijuana mascot, who is rallying college students to hit the polls this November.
Conceivably, the group will spend roughly $20 million on the proposed amendment. They reportedly spent $2.5 million in June alone, campaigning and securing signatures of voters for a mandated petition—an early but crucial step to making sure the vote takes place.
ResponsibleOhio recognizes that prohibition has failed; Ohio marijuana laws need to be revised. Representatives of the PAC have pointed out that up to billions of dollars are being spent on marijuana already—every cent of it untaxed.
If those illegal marijuana dollars are not contributing to no kind of public benefit, then it becomes a detriment, and destructive, as much of that money can be circulated between drug dealers and crime circuits, hurting local government and sapping resources, budget, and capacity of local law enforcement.
But there are also serious challenges to Ohio’s becoming the fifth such state to legalize cannabis.
Initially, the ResponsibleOhio did not meet the base threshold of valid signatures necessary (305,591) to land the cannabis legalization issue on the ballot. They also faced possible allegations of voter fraud.
However, the PAC asserted the legitimacy of the cause and their own confidence, and was able to make up the difference in a second round of efforts to secure signatures, with over 95,000 additional signatures.
Lawmakers, anti-drug organizations, and even other cannabis activist have tried to thwart the proposed amendment in its current state. There is some concern that marijuana legalization in Ohio will become a monopoly unless there are specific provisions, or some alteration to the form of the current amendment, which stipulates that only 10 marijuana farms (owned by campaign investors) can grow commercially.
Issue 2 is another amendment that may be passed separately, or even along with the original amendment, legalizing recreational in addition to medical marijuana in Ohio, that will prevent the key investors from forming monopolies in the recreational cannabis market.