Who Will Win, Sell, Regulate? What You Need To Know About Ohio Marijuana Legalization

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Ohio is the latest front in the marijuana wars, with citizens heading to the polls to decide whether to legalize recreational and medical use.

Issue 3 would amend Ohio’s constitution to legalize the use of marijuana and make it the fifth state in the nation to reverse the policy of prohibition, following Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington. Ohio would be the most populous state so far to legalize weed.

But before the votes are counted and the results are announced, here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s ballot.

What do the polls say?

Support for marijuana legalization in Ohio has been touch and go with state based polls showing supporters of Issue 3 with a small lead or dead even split.

Quinnipiac University released a poll Oct. 8 showing that 53 percent in favor of Issue 3, with 44 percent opposed.

In the middle of October, a Bowling Green State University poll showed 44.4 percent support among adult voters for legalization against 42.9 percent.

But Oct. 20, the University of Akron Buckeye Poll published findings that showed Ohioans were evenly split on Issue 3 with 46 percent for and against the measure, and eight percent undecided. Neither side has a clear advantage and no-one knows what voters will decide on Tuesday.

Who could buy and grow pot

The amendment to the Ohio constitution would allow adults aged 21 and over would be allowed to consume cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. Adults would be allowed to carry up to an ounce of pot and grow and keep eight ounces if they get a state license.

Who will be selling marijuana?

One the most controversial aspects of Issue 3 is how and who will sell cannabis should the voters opt for legalization. If Issue 3 passes, the rights to grow and distribute marijuana commercially will be granted to just 10 facilities in the state. The fear from both marijuana opponents and supporters is that Issue 3 will mean granting a legal monopoly to a small group of marijuana investors and growers.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, “the measure would root the 10 marijuana growth sites to particular land parcels, which happen to be controlled by the mysterious companies funding the initiative. They would function as Ohio’s only wholesale suppliers of marijuana.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization advocacy group, told the Daily Caller News Foundation they were neutral officially neutral on Issue 3 but generally supported regulating marijuana like alcohol. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said it supported Issue 3 but with “some hesitancy.”

Who will regulate?

Issue 3s passage would usher in the creation of the Marijuana Control Commission, which would comprise of of doctors, law enforcement, lawyers and business people and the public. The state agency would be responsible for regulating the industry and product. The MCC would be funded through taxes levied on marijuana.

What’s the biggest challenge?

On November 3, Ohio voters will be confronted not just with Issue 3 another ballot measure which would essentially kill the current amendment for legalization stone dead. If the Ohio Initiated Monopolies Amendment or Issue 2 was passed it would invalidate a yes vote to Issue 3. This is because Issue 2 would ban the state from granting monopolies through the state constitution, which is what, in effect Issue 3 would do.

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