Ohio rejects measure legalising recreational marijuana use

State considered a political bellwether with the candidate who wins the state usually winning the presidency

Buddie, the mascot for a pro-marijuana legalization group, ResponsibleOhio, poses for a photo outside the group’s field office in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. Voters have soundly rejected  a measure that would have made it the first US Midwestern state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, local media projections said. Photograph: Andrew Spear/The New York Times

Buddie, the mascot for a pro-marijuana legalization group, ResponsibleOhio, poses for a photo outside the group’s field office in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. Voters have soundly rejected a measure that would have made it the first US Midwestern state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, local media projections said. Photograph: Andrew Spear/The New York Times

 

Ohio voters soundly rejected on Tuesday a measure that would have made it the first US Midwestern state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, local media projections said.

Issue 3, which would have added an amendment to the state constitution that legalises both the personal and medical use of marijuana for those over 21 years old, was defeated by nearly a two-to-one margin, the projections said.

The measure was criticised for allowing the main backers of the proposal cartel-like powers over the industry in the state for several years, an arrangement that rubbed many voters who supported legalisation of the drug the wrong way, analysts said.

With 75 per cent of precincts reporting, the measure lost in every one of the state’s 87 counties, with one county not reporting. It also lost in urban areas and counties with a large population of college students, with 1,628,521 voting against and 887,327 voting for legalisation.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican running for U.S. president, said in a statement that he was “proud Ohioans voted no on Issue 3 and instead chose a path that helps strengthen our families and communities”.

Ohio is considered a political bellwether, with the candidate who wins the state usually winning the presidency. A victory for recreational marijuana in Ohio could have changed the national conversation on legalisation, said Gary Daniels of the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union.

The states that have legalised the recreational usage of marijuana are Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia. About two dozen states allow its use for medical reasons.

Seven other states are expected to vote on recreational marijuana legalisation next year.

Issue 3 would have granted exclusive rights for commercial marijuana growth and distribution to 10 facilities across the state. Those facilities are owned by investors in the legalisation movement.

Critics say that creates a monopoly, and responded with a rival ballot measure called Issue 2. That would nullify legalisation if it creates “an economic monopoly or special privilege” for a private entity.

With more than half of all precincts reporting, Issue 2 was passing with a 4 percent margin.

Reuters