As the clock struck midnight on July 21st, the hopes for a ballot measure to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state of Ohio came to an abrupt stop. After months of campaigning and collecting signatures, the Ohio cannabis ballot bid, sadly, fell short in its goal – just missing the needed number of valid signatures.
1. Ohio MMJ Ballot Bid Falls Short
The Fate of Marijuana Legalization in Ohio
Ohio’s effort to be the fifth state to legalize marijuana through ballot bid has fallen short. While the pro-marijuana supporters had pushed hard for the legalization, the proposition failed to gain enough support.
Voters in Ohio faced three options:
- legalization of marijuana for medical and personal use
- legalization only for medical purposes
- maintaining the current status
In the end, the majority of the votes went for the option to maintain the current status, leaving marijuana illegal in Ohio.
The passage of the proposition would have made Ohio the first eastern state to legalize recreational marijuana. This could have set a monumental example for other states in the east coast, yet it was not meant to be. Supporters of the proposal had petitioned thousands of signatures, yet the ballot bid failed to get enough votes to pass, leaving Ohio on the unlikelier end of the marijuana debate.
2. Ohio’s Road to Cannabis Liberty Stalls Out
Fading Freedom Bell
The path to marijuana legalization in Ohio was navigated with high hopes among reformers. But the legalization effort has beached on the shores of legislative inactivity. Current law remains firmly stuck in the ‘Reefer Madness’ past as legalized recreational use remains tangled in the shade of lengthy bureaucratic proceedings.
Despite dozens of bills floating about, reformer advances have been reduced to a litany of should-be successes: Ohio dispensaries can now provide edibles, oil and other cannabis related products, and diseases like HIV/AIDS, depression and parkinson’s can be covered with cards allowing access to medical marijuana. Tens of thousands of Ohio patients have such cards, and can access medical marijuana in other, more welcoming states.
But until Ohio catches up with the enthusiastic reforms of other states, the Bell of Liberty will simply remain out of reach.
3. Unmet Requirements Halt Adult-Use Marijuana Ballot Push
Marijuana advocates hoping to put an adult-use marijuana bill on the 2020 ballot will likely be disappointed. In order to meet the requirements for a ballot initiative, the advocates were required to collect 280,000 signatures, along with at least 8% of the vote from 14 of Alaska’s 18 districts. Despite months of promotions, petitions, and fundraisers, the advocates still fell short of the mark.
So, what exactly went wrong? Advocates misjudged the difficulty of collecting signatures accurately from an adequate amount of Alaskan voters. Petitions had to be completely legible, including written date, address, and name. Administrative issues and confusion also played a role; Some of the previously-signed petitions had to be removed due to inaccurate information, while others were inadvertently not authorized by the necessary signatories.
- Although the signatures may seem easy to collect, various regulations can turn this process into a complex one.
- In addition, petition-gatherers had to deal with a smaller window of time.
- The weather was also a factor: inclement conditions curbed the amount of door-to-door canvassing.
4. Hopes for Ohio Cannabis Legalization Dimmed
The hopes of cannabis legalization in Ohio had been recently dimmed. Despite the efforts of advocates, Ohio state government had refused to consider cannabis reform. This was a major setback for the state.
The current system does not allow for recreational or even medical marijuana, and no legal avenues currently exist for legalization. Cultivation of the plant is also illegal. The industry is being kept tight, with little room for any progress. This is disappointing and worrying for advocates and those out of favor with the current system.
- Advocates: Advocates of cannabis reform are not happy with the lack of progress and feel that their voices have not been heard.
- System: The current system does not allow for the use of cannabis, medical or recreational, so the only avenue is illegal trading.
- Cultivation: Cultivating cannabis is illegal, so individuals who wish to grow the plant must apply for a special license.
As we bid goodbye to the adult-use marijuana ballot bid in Ohio this year, it’s important to remember that it is not the end. While the bid fell short of the needed signatures, there were still many brave consumers, activists, and businesses who worked towards making Ohio an adequate and regulated market for adult-use marijuana. As a result, the groundwork for a successful campaign in the coming years has been established and is closer than ever. We will have to wait and see if Ohio is ready to light up the next ballot bid.