Issue 3, ResponsibleOhio failed to pass.
Most notably was the controversial ResponsibleOhio measure that sought to permit the limited commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of cannabis for those 21 years or older in the state. The measure would have initially established 10 state-licensed commercial growing sites, allowed for 1,000 retail dispensaries, five regional testing facilities and also a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary system to provide access to those patients with a recommendation from a physician.
This proposal received a significant amount of backlash from Ohio residents who believed awarding the 10 growing licenses to private investors, who fronted the costs of the campaign, was overly restrictive in nature.
NORML Deputy Director, Paul Armentano said: “We are disappointed though not entirely surprised by the outcome of this vote. While it remains clear that a majority of Ohioans support ending criminal marijuana prohibition for adults, and patients in particular, the majority of the debate surrounding Issue 3 focused on provisions regarding the limited number of entities who would financially profit from this proposed market model. It has been clear for some time now that Americans want legal marijuana; it is also abundantly clear that most voters want the free market, not an artificially restricted one dictated by special interests, to govern this emerging marketplace. It is our hope that Ohio lawmakers will listen to the will of the people in Ohio and work toward crafting sensible legislation to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana in a manner that comports with the free-market values of Ohioans.”
Nonetheless, voter sentiment remains in favor of legalizing marijuana. Next November, voters are expected to decide on ballot measures regulating marijuana in a number of states including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona. These measures will not contain the restrictive provisions similar to those proposed in Ohio.
At the local level, residents in Keego Harbor and Portage, Michigan were also faced with a ballot decision today on whether or not to remove the criminal penalties associated with the possession, use, transfer and transportation of small amounts of marijuana. At this time, it has been confirmed that Keego Harbor has approved their ballot measure. Portage voters also narrowly approved their measure. Results of the vote for a similar depenalization measure in Logan, Ohio are not yet publicly available.
The results of two candidate races boded well tonight for marijuana law reform. In Kentucky, Republican candidate for Governor, Matt Bevin defeated Attorney General of Kentucky, Jack Conway. The Kentucky Governor in waiting has made supportive statements in the past for legalizing medical marijuana, while his opponent called marijuana a dangerous gateway to addiction.
Additionally, former city councilmen Jim Kenney won the race to become Philadelphia’s next mayor. Kenney championed the city’s now successfully implemented marijuana decriminalization measure and has expressed interest in reducing fines and enforcement even further.
NORML will update this post tomorrow with the final vote counts for all of the measures mentioned.