Ohio Rejects Pot Initiative as Colorado, Denver Fatten Up on Tax Revenues

While the results of the Jefferson County School Board recall were the biggest election story locally, there were plenty of other important measures that went before Colorado voters, including Proposition BB, which was touted as allowing the state to spend excess tax money generated by marijuana sales beyond state estimates — a requirement of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, shorthanded as TABOR.

The proposition won handily — and Ballot Item 2B, a similar item pertaining to tax monies in Denver, was also approved by voters.

Ohio won't have to deal with issues like this — not for a while, anyhow. Voters in the state rejected a marijuana-legalization measure by a wide margin.

But was their verdict a repudiation of legal pot in general? Or of the way sales and regulations would have been implemented had the proposal known in the state as Issue 3 passed? One national marijuana-reform advocate argues for the latter.

Issue 3, backed by an organization called ResponsibleOhio, was attacked by opponents as creating a monopoly on cultivating marijuana for a small group of ganjapreneurs, including singer Nick Lachey, best known for his membership in the '90s-era boy band 98 Degrees.

For that reason, the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell, who we frequently turn to for perspective on national cannabis issues, sees the vote as a repudiation of Issue 3's specifics, not marijuana legalization as a whole.

"“When it comes to the broader debate about legalizing marijuana, the defeat of Issue 3 won’t be a case of ‘as Ohio goes, so goes the nation,'" Angell maintains in an e-mail to Westword. "This was about a flawed measure and a campaign that didn't represent what voters want."

In fact, several recent polls show that a majority of Ohioans support marijuana legalization, including this one, this one and this one.

"It’s a shame Ohio voters didn’t have the opportunity to consider sensible legalization in 2015," Angell continues. "Hopefully it’ll only be another election cycle or two until a more responsible team secures enough funding to put a better initiative on the ballot. Perhaps even the same group of investors cares enough about the real reasons for legalization to humbly receive the message Ohio voters just sent and try again in 2016 with a smarter proposal that establishes a more fairly regulated market."

One more like Colorado's, perhaps?

Look below to see a report about the Ohio results from the Columbus Dispatch.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts