Tuesday, November 3, 2015
As noted in this post at my other blog and as reported in this local article, "Ohio voters strongly rejected legalizing marijuana today, despite a $25 million campaign by proponents. The issue to legalize pot for recreational and medical use [Issue 3] is going down 65 percent to 35 percent, losing in all 88 counties with about 72 percent of the of the statewide vote counted."
Based on the significant criticisms of the corporate reform model brought to Ohio voters, which generated significant criticisms from the traditional marijuana reform advocacy community, I am not to surprised that Issue 3 failed to garner a majority of off-off-year voters. But I am somwhat surprised, especially in light of polling that suggested a closer outcome, that Issue 3 is losing by such a significant margin. And I think the size of the loss in Ohio could slow down the momentum for full marijuana legalization in midwestern states.
Helpfully, John Hudak at Brookings already has this lengthy post providing lots of Ohio election take-aways. The post's title highlights its main themes: "Ohio's failure to legalize marijuana tells us little about reform, and less about the future." Here is how it concludes:
I have written previously that the success of previous marijuana reform ballot initiatives was due in part to the professionalization of the reform community, hiring political strategists, lawyers, lobbyists, communications professionals, and others to join issue-driven activists in the fight for their cause. The failure of Issue 3 was a failure by Responsible Ohio to implement an effective political strategy that is sensitive to the challenges facing referenda.
The “big” takeaway from tonight’s rejection of legalization is this: don’t run a controversial marijuana initiative in Ohio in an off-off year. Anyone who suggests Ohio’s decision tells us anything about the success or failure of initiatives in 2016 is just blowing smoke.