In Ohio, early voting is already underway for Issue 3, a controversial initiative to legalize recreational cannabis for those 21 and older, which is on the November 8th general election ballot. The “controversial” portion of the initiative isn’t that it would legalize cannabis, it’s how it would do it, establishing what many are calling a monopoly on retail cannabis cultivation. Despite this aspect of the measure, which we agree is an issue that should be addressed by state lawmakers if the initiative passes, the massively positive changes the proposal would make to the state’s cannabis laws make it far worth a “Yes” vote.
Similar to legalization laws passed in Colorado, Washington and Alaska, Ohio’s initiative would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and purchase it from a state-licensed retail outlet. Unlike those three states, Ohio’s proposal would allow adults to purchase a license ($50) from a newly-created Ohio Marijuana Control Commission allowing them to possess up to eight ounces, and cultivate an unlimited number of sprouting cannabis plants, with up to four allowed to be in the flowering stage.
Passage of this initiative would put an end to up to 17,000 annual arrests for cannabis possession, while creating 35,000 new jobs, according to a report by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters. It would also add millions of dollars to the state’s budget, both in taxes and reduced enforcement costs.
Issue 3 – which is an amendment to the state’s constitution – would establish a system of licensed cannabis retail outlets, which would distribute cannabis to anyone 21 and older. These outlets would receive cannabis from a licensed cultivation center. The initiative guarantees the state’s ten cultivation centers to investors of the initiative, which is its most polarizing aspect (so polarizing that lawmakers put a separate measure on the ballot – Issue 2 – which prevents monopoly in the state’s constitution; a legal challenge is sure to ensue if both pass).
Although we agree with opponents who argue that this is the wrong approach and establishes an unfair monopoly, we also agree with supporters that the law can be changed. Even if it takes some time for a change to come, this negative aspect isn’t worth preventing a stop to thousands of arrests for cannabis every year, given that there’s no telling how long it could be before another legalization initiative makes the ballot if Issue 3 fails.
Also, if Issue 3 fails, it gives opponents of legalization something to grasp onto after victories in Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon. The public will likely see a defeat of Issue 3 as a defeat for legalization – not a referendum on a particular provision – and a sign that momentum for the movement is slowing down. This makes it even more important that proponents of legalization support this measure, so to keep legalization moving forward, even if the form of legalization isn’t ideal.
Overall, we strongly encourage those in Ohio to vote “Yes” on Issue 3.
You can find out more about this initiative by clicking here.