On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Ohioans voted against legalizing medical and recreational marijuana on a nearly 2-1 vote. Issue 3, the ballot name of the legalization of said marijuana, is a complex amendment to the Ohio Constitution that has many political strategists and hippies alike scratching their heads.
Issue 3 is an odd case of suits and ties pushing for legalization, while grassroots marijuana advocates are adamantly against it. How could this be? Well, Issue 3, in detail, gives exclusive growing rights to a set number of investment groups on 10 specified parcels of land. Though one would be able to grow personal plants at home (at a limit of four flowering plants), the retail and medical market would be dominated by constitutionally justified growing groups, which are conveniently the same 10 groups that invested over $40 million in the campaign for Issue 3. It would be a constitutional oligopoly. As we know here at Colorado College, if there’s one thing weed advocates are more passionate about than legalization, it’s “sticking it to the man!” Why? Because the man sucks!
“We have clearly taken this from the tie-dye to the suit-and-tie approach,” said Ian James, the political strategist for the group running Issue 3’s campaign.
My initial response to the rejection of marijuana legalization by my home state is pride. I’m proud that fellow citizens are aware enough to oppose a legal oligopoly that would further corrupt our great state; even though the majority of those that voted against Issue 3 probably couldn’t define the word oligopoly and just voted against it because it’s “the devil’s lettuce,” I do think it’s a good thing Ohio waited. Yeah, I understand that it’s so awesome that it passed in Colorado, and so awesome that it passed in Washington, and that it probably will pass recreationally in California, as well as a few others—I understand. What I think a lot of people fail to comprehend is that this is the West.
Colorado Springs is over 1,200 miles away from Ohio’s capital (which I hope you all know is Columbus). What happens in that 1,200-mile gap is a change in landscape, Subaru prevalence, weather, and most importantly: culture. The societal construct and way of thinking is different between the East, Midwest, West, and South. There is a reason you can look at someone and take a pretty solid guess at where they are from after a few minutes of conversation. The mindset is different, not better or worse, but different. Colorado was ready for legalization, so it passed. California was ready for medical use, so it passed. Ohio just isn’t. The legislature of Ohio would not have supported it. The rural evangelical culture that is prevalent anywhere outside of the three big C’s (which I hope you also know are Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati) would not have supported it. The traditionalists that maintain the swing state status of Ohio would not have supported it. It takes time, acceptance of responsibility from the general public, and support and tolerance from those that are going to coexist with the undeniable effects marijuana has on communities (both good and bad).
Issue 3 wasn’t a loss for marijuana legalization advocates, nor a win for those against it; it’s just not the right fit yet. Think of it this way: isn’t it great knowing all those rich people lost a lot of money?