Ohio Votes No on Legalization and This Lawyer Blames Nick Lachey

Marijuana legalization initiative fails in Buckeye State. Shut up!

Tuesday night Ohio voters said no to legalized marijuana in a 65 percent to 35 percent margin. The unique legalization model posed in the state's Issue 3 ballot measure failed because it became less about whether or not to legalize cannabis and more about how to legalize it—specifically about who would be allowed to profit from the distribution and sale of cannabis. 

While Issue 3 would have established a legal marijuana market in Ohio, it also designated a monopoly of 10 commercial grow operators statewide, written into the state constitution as the sole license holders legally allowed to produce cannabis on a commercial scale. The initiative included a provision for home growers to cultivate a limited number of plants for personal use. Still, most voters seem to have felt that Issue 3 was exclusionary and catered to a select group of capitalists. 

Indeed, the designated license holders were the very backers funding the initiative, which was a little too much political horse patty for 65 percent of Ohio voters to swallow. Notably, entertainer Nick Lachey was among the would-be profiteers who were seeking to control the grow and flow of green buddha in the Buckeye State. (Looks like Lachey will have to wait a bit longer for a "98 Degrees" strain review. ) 

To get a sense of what went wrong for weed in Ohio, THE KIND phoned Cleveland-based attorney Tom Haren, whose firm specializes in marijuana law, in search of a post-election postmortem, and some insight into what comes next.

The KIND:  We're getting the sense that Issue 3 failed because voters decided the initiative became more about how to go about making a killing on legalized weed and less about actually doing it.

Tom Haren: By and large, most of the opposition to Responsible Ohio's plan was not opposition to the legalization of marijuana whether for medicinal or recreational use; it was an opposition to this perceived oligopoly for these investors. There was a real dispute with the legalization movement on how to support this initiative. Of course, there are some people who just don't support legalization, but the polls definitely show that Ohioans are in favor of legalized medical marijuana. 

"From the beginning, I don't think the voters bought into what Responsible Ohio was selling." 

The KIND: What comes next? 
Tom Haren: The ball is in the court of the Ohio General Assembly. We've got a fairly conservative general assembly in Ohio, but they're sensible. I'm hopeful that they latch onto this and put forward some sensible legislation. It will be very interesting to see if the general assembly is able to really examine the issue to craft something that is beneficial for the people of Ohio. Responsible Ohio has also said they're coming back next year with some different language and have pledged to fund a new initiative. 

The KIND: What do the voters want in the next version of such an initiative?
Tom Haren: People generally supported the legalization of cannabis, but there was a disagreement as to whether it should be medicinal or recreational. There are voters that might recognize the medical merit of cannabis, but get off the boat once the conversation turns to legalized recreational use. Whereas, those in favor of full-on legalization for recreational use, it simply was a matter of how this should be done. They were not in favor of the general public being shut out [of the profit process].

Even the Marijuana Policy Project didn't really push this initiative like they have for others in other states. From the beginning, I don't think the voters bought into what Responsible Ohio was selling. 

For traditionally conservative-leaning states such as Ohio, having this conversation at all is progress . Though legal weed remains a dream for now, some Ohioans are still able to get their hands on the devil lettuce. Keep doin' you, Muddy Mane.