Was it because of a potential marijuana monopoly? Was it because the vote was rigged? Or was it just because Nick Lachey sucks? No matter what, there’s good and bad news for Ohio’s marijuana activists.
There’s a common saying in politics that “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” Well, last week my dear home state of Ohio decided to go against the national popular opinion and vote down a ballot initiative called Issue 3 that would have legalized marijuana. However, as everyone from Rolling Stone to Reason has since noted, this was no ordinary legalization vote. For starters, all four of the states that have legalized marijuana in the U.S. first already had laws legalizing pot for medicinal purposes. Ohio never had anything like that in place before this year, so it was a bit more of a jump for Ohio’s conservative-leaning voters to make. Couple this with the fact that in an off voting year like 2015, more of those conservative-leaning voters were the ones who did show up to vote, and they tend to be pretty scared of marijuana in general, much less the idea of people smoking it all willy-nilly. This is why successful efforts to legalize marijuana usually occur in even election years -- especially during presidential elections -- when younger and minority voters who support marijuana reform actually get out to vote. To add to all this, the pothead vote is also literally the least reliable vote ever (You mean Election Day was today? I forgot, man!)
But many people have pointed out that there was something far more sinister about Issue 3. It was a legalization campaign that was funded by a handful of rich investors, with a law written and designed to only benefit those investors. Yes, essentially Issue 3 would have created a legal marijuana cartel in Ohio where only 10 regulated grow sites would be allowed, and everyone who financially backed Issue 3 would be the ones to run and benefit from the entire operation. It would have been crony capitalism at its worst, and to add insult to injury, one of these wealthy backers was Cincinnati native and former boy band singer, Nick Lachey. And if reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that no one should ever let Nick Lachey be in charge of anything, much less where our weed is grown. So the pro-legalization movement divided -- some reporters at progressive media outlets and organizations like the Ohio Rights Group begrudgingly endorsed Issue 3, realizing it was the only chance in the “foreseeable future” to end marijuana prohibition. The Libertarian Party of Ohio chose not to endorse it because of its crony capitalism, and Willie Nelson even said that trying to monopolize the pot industry “ain’t right.” As Seth Meyers pointed out, when you’ve lost Willie on the weed issue, it’s time to “rethink your strategy.”
But now it’s coming out that even more sinister forces could have been at play. We Ohioans know first hand about rigged elections and voter fraud, and during this election, some of the same activists who wrote about the famous 2004 election have now written about unusual irregularities with the Issue 3 vote tally. Yes, on election night there were Ohio news outlets showing results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and in a matter of minutes the vote count for Issue 3 went from 65% for yes to 65% for no, despite not nearly enough precincts reporting to make that big of a difference. This is also odd because the original polling on Issue 3 had the vote much closer. Add to all this that our douchebag Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted -- who essentially controls the keys to the voting booths -- was vehemently opposed to Issue 3, and the Republicans in our state legislature were so opposed to it that they put an anti-monopoly initiative on the ballot called Issue 2, which passed easily.
All of this bodes for an interesting mix going into 2016. It’s clear that the “corporate marijuana monopoly ballot initiative” route was not the way to go for legalization in Ohio, but it would be nice to see some kind of drug reform in the state whether it comes through medicinal marijuana laws or better ballot initiatives or even just our dumb ol’ Republican-led state legislature. But if there really is voter fraud happening in our state once again, then it could create far bigger problems for anyone running against the Republicans next year, whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders or just some good-natured pot activists. Because if the democratic system is rigged, then there’s no reason to try and legally change anything the establishment doesn’t like. And you don’t have to be stoned to know that that situation ain’t right, man.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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