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Don't Understand Ohio's Legalization Vote? It's Easy As 1-2-3

Update: Nov. 4, 2015: Ohioans overwhelmingly voted down Issue 3 - which would have created a marijuana monopoly in the state - by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. So the prohibition of medical and recreational marijuana will continue in Ohio for the time being. Meanwhile, Issue 2 - the measure to prevent monopolies in any industry from being added to the state constitution - passed. It ensures no marijuana monopolies will be created in the future.

Here's a recap of the historic vote.

Issue 3

If Ohio residents vote "yes" on Issue 3, everyone aged 21 or over will be able to carry up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. They will also be able to grow up to four plants per household, as long as they get a license that will cost $50. At any given time, people can have only eight ounces of cannabis per residence - not resident. People won't be allowed to consume cannabis, in any form, in public places.

The state will also collect taxes from the manufacturers and growers (15 percent) and retailers (5 percent) based on gross revenue.

Here's where things get controversial, even if you support legalization. If Issue 3 passes, the state will give 10 cannabis firms exclusive rights to grow product and supply retailers, thereby creating a monopoly. Not everyone is happy with this, which is where Issue 2 comes in. We'll get to that shortly.

The Ballot's Backers

Issue 3 was sponsored by Ian James of ResponsibleOhio, who says the cannabis industry will create more than 10,000 jobs statewide, and generate over $500-million in tax revenue per year. ResponsibleOhio gained financial backing by crafting a proposal with plenty of incentives for contributors, who are spending approximately $20-million on the campaign.

Notable investors include NBA hall-of-famer Oscar Robertson, NFL defensive end Frostee Rucker, and Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees and reality TV fame. In exchange for their support, the top contributors will receive exclusive licenses to the state's 10 proposed growing sites, which will supply both the recreational and medicinal marijuana market.

The Controversy: Issue 2

The proposed marijuana monopoly has spawned anti-Issue 3 movements, including Issue 2 - a ballot question that would invalidate any constitutional amendment that grants an economic monopoly in Ohio. Voting "yes" to Issues 2 and 3 would create a constitutional crisis that could take courts months or perhaps even years to settle.

Meanwhile, Sri Kavuru - president of Legalize Ohio 2016 - is campaigning against Issue 3 while also gathering signatures to turn a rival legalization proposal into a 2016 ballot question. Kavuru's amendment would prevent a marijuana monopoly by allowing anyone in Ohio to apply for a commercial license. Residents would also be allowed to cultivate plants at home without a permit.

Will Issue 3 Pass?

According to New Frontier Financials, a cannabis industry reporting firm, both Issue 3 and Issue 2 will likely pass.

However, three polls conducted separately by Kent State University, Bowling Green State University and the University of Akron all found voters split too narrowly to call regarding Issue 2 and Issue 3. So the Nov. 3 vote may only be the beginning of the fight to legalize cannabis in the Buckeye State.

h/t Vox, NPR, Globe Newswire, Dayton Daily News, NBC 24,


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