Yesterday, the citizens of Ohio rejected Issue 3, an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. And it wasn’t even close. A whopping 65 percent of voters shot down Issue 3, with only 35 percent supporting it. While this may seem like a clear rebuke of legal pot in the Buckeye State, evidence suggests that the voters of Ohio were actually rejecting former 98 Degrees lead singer Nick Lachey.
Had Issue 3 passed, it would have created a legal monopoly on recreational marijuana in Ohio. As the Guardian explains:
[T]he measure would have placed the state’s marijuana cultivation exclusively in the hands of those who bankrolled the campaign. The motley crew of investors behind Issue 3 included a former member of boyband 98 Degrees, Nick Lachey; NBA hall of famer Oscar Robertson; and Woody Taft, a great-great-grandnephew of US president William Howard Taft.
Backers of Issue 3, including Lachey, spent an estimated $20 million on the campaign, which is understandable, since they were looking at billions in potential profits. But the questionable circumstances surrounding the amendment were a bridge too far for many voters, including longtime marijuana supporters.
According to the Atlantic, pro-marijuana advocates such as Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project refused to support Issue 3. NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) supported the measure while at the same time voicing concerns about the details. Given the low level of support amoung activists, it’s no surprise the amendment went up in smoke.
“To me, the reform community has to be ecstatic to see that even in a purple state like Ohio, the advocacy against reform wasn’t ‘Marijuana is this evil weed,’” Douglas Berman, a professor of law at the Ohio State University, told the Atlantic. “It was, 'Don’t trust those monopolists to legalize weed.’”
Anyone who truly knows me knows my unconditional love for the state of Ohio. Disappointing to see some of you question that today.— Nick Lachey (@NickLachey) November 4, 2015
While legal weed in Ohio may be on hold, voters in the state may get the chance to vote on a legalization proposal that does not create a monopoly as early as next year.
“We have our own initiative; it’s already approved by the attorney general’s office and the ballot board,” Sri Kavuru, president of Ohioans to End Prohibition, told the Guardian. “We’ve collected a lot of signatures so far. We have a lot of phone calls to make and a lot of conversations to follow up on, but we’re going to plan our strategy and talk to some of the people who’ve committed funding to us and decide what way to move forward from there.“