As November approaches, it is getting even more difficult for people in Ohio when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, also known as weed or pot. ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the push for legalization in Ohio, managed to get the okay on new ballot wording, but the group does not like the wording, and now says it’s promoting an anti-weed stance by the government.
While the ballot language was approved, ResponsibleOhio is claiming it will go to the Ohio Supreme Court over the language, which has now turned the legalization of weed into Issue 3. So moving on, proponents of legalization in Ohio will know this as Issue 3. What is confusing for people though is that besides the wording in the law, now there is an Issue 2, and Issue 2 is voting to stop weed legalization in Ohio. So what we have is Issue 2, which is no way to legalization of weed, and Issue 3, which is yes we want legalization in Ohio. Beyond that, there is a wording issue that ResponsibleOhio is claiming is anti-pot, including using the word “Recreational” instead of ResponsibleOhio’s proposed “personal use” ballot language. The group says that “recreational” is a more negative word due to the connotations and fears this word has held previously, whereas personal use seems to be more positive and spirited. Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is the Republican chair, said that “recreational” is a word commonly used in these situations and it helps keep the personal use separate from the medical use. The argument is that personal use could be seen as medical because in a sense, someone using it for medical use is still using it for personal use, meaning it’s for that person and their situation. Using the term recreational, according to Husted, indicates that this is for something other than medical use, although ResponsibleOhio cites “unfavorable polling” for this word and is vowing to fight.
So what is next for Ohio? Issue 3 is going to be on the ballot in the fall, although it’s far from over in the state, with opponents claiming ResponsibleOhio is trying to grow a monopoly, especially since the group gets to say which 10 and only 10 places in Ohio can have the growing sites. Issue 2 is basically saying there should not be this monopoly and it would make it impossible for Issue 3 to move forward the way ResponsibleOhio wants it to. This has been a huge battle for years now, with ResponsibleOhio trying to get this on the ballot previously, but didn’t get the paperwork filed in time, and has had issues with deadlines and signatures. This time, there was another issue with getting the signatures needed, but the group got an extension, and got the signatures, although the fight has been now centered on wording. If you are wondering, if Ohio passed this law, it would make Ohio the first state to pass both recreational and medical at the same time. Most people don’t think this is going to happen, as with other states medical has typically been accepted before recreational.
There are plenty of other states looking to go to the polls to vote on weed in 2015, but Ohio might be seen as a central state, since Ohio is a swing state in elections, and we are getting a lot closer to 2016. If Ohio passes this legalization, it could possibly signal what way voters are thinking of going in 2016 in terms of a president. For now, the fight continues, and even after it passes or fails, it’s clear both sides are not prepared to give up on the fight. A lot of residents say, pass now, go to court later to change the wording or legality of the monopoly aspect, but many residents are also opposed to ResponsibleOhio as a group, and that is going to be the hurdle to pass weed in Ohio. It will also be interesting to see what the impact of this will have on the upcoming election, which presidents will talk about the decision Ohio makes, and what Gov. John Kasich might have to say about the result or lead up to the vote.