6 reasons marijuana legalization failed in Ohio

from USAToday,

The sheer size of Tuesday’s crushing electoral defeat of marijuana legalization in the Buckeye State surprised political experts inside and out of Ohio. Despite a $20 million campaign, the proposed constitutional amendment, known as Issue 3, lost. Amid its smoking wreckage, six reasons emerge to explain what happened to Issue 3 — and what happens next. With 99% of precincts reporting, the amendment was defeated 64% to 36%. The business plan. “Boy, that word monopoly. It’s been an ugly word in politics since Theodore Roosevelt’s day,” political scientist David Niven at the University of Cincinnati said Tuesday night. Issue 3 was unique in the history of the modern legalization movement in that it would have written into the Ohio Constitution provisions to limit the cultivation of the state’s crop to 10 already-chosen properties. Issue 3’s backers said the plan’s advantage would have been to allow the state to tightly regulate marijuana at the grow source. The technical term for such an economic model is oligopoly.

Issue 2. The state’s political establishment threw everything it could to stop Issue 3. The Legislature wrote Issue 2, which would prohibit market monopolies, explicitly to prevent a “monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” from getting established in the state’s constitution.

Full legalization vs. medical. The four other states that have legalized marijuana so far — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state — had already established programs to permit people to get marijuana to treat various illnesses. Ohio's measure asked residents to make a huge jump from prohibition to full legalization.

Off-year election. Ian James, the executive director of ResponsibleOhio, is a seasoned Ohio political operative. He said that putting legalization on the ballot in an off-year election would be less expensive than an even year, and it would guarantee that the subject would not be drowned out by other campaigns. But when other states have considered marijuana issues, it’s always been on even-year elections to capture the higher turnout.

The movement. Marijuana activists always squabble over legalization initiatives. One reason that a 2010 proposition lost in California was because the marijuana farmers in the state’s “emerald triangle” voted it down by 70%. Marijuana activists in Ohio were almost uniformly opposed to the measure. Many of them have been fighting The Man on marijuana for years, and the prospect of wealthy investors suddenly swooping down to throw money at the issue and then cashing in on the Green Rush was galling.

Buddie. A cartoonish mascot with the head shaped like a marijuana bud did not move the conversation forward. James and marijuana legalization supporters thought Buddie would be a kitschy, ironic statement for college kids. Instead, the character turned off adults who thought Buddie would appeal to children.

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