Ohio Voters Just Say No To Legalized Recreational Marijuana

A controversial ballot initiative in Ohio that would have legalized recreational and medical marijuana — but would have also concentrated the authority to mass-produce the plant in the hands of only 10 growers — has fallen flat, meaning the Buckeye State won’t become the fifth state to legalize pot for recreational use.

With nearly 80% of precincts reporting as of right now, votes against Issue 3 — the legalization measure — outnumber the yes votes by 65% to 35%.

Earlier on election day, ReponsibleOhio, the group behind the push for Issue 3, successfully convinced a court in Hamilton County — home of Cincinnati — to keep the polls open there for an additional 90 minutes following complaints of long lines, technical issues, and other delays.

However, early results from Hamilton County are not favorable for legalization, with nearly 60% of counted votes going in the “no” pile.

While the results may seem to indicate a general disinterest in legalization, the truth may be more complicated and will lead to much speculation from Wednesday morning quarterbacks.

As we noted in September, a number of pro-legalization Ohioans were skeptical about Issue 3 and planning to vote against the measure. They objected not just because Issue 3 would concentrate all commercial pot production in the hands of 10 growers, but because ResponsibleOhio’s primary financial backers were the same investors who own those pre-selected farms.

The most notable face of that campaign has been former boy-bander Nick Lachey, who has appeared in TV ads for Issue 3, but who can’t even vote in Ohio because he’s registered in California.

The one-time reality star conceded defeat on Twitter Tuesday night:

Supporters of Issue 3 had tried to counter the cries of “monopoly” by pointing out that it would have allowed individuals to grow a small amount of marijuana for their own use. To some detractors, this is like telling people it’s okay to create a gasoline monopoly by allowing people to drill in their backyards.

Even if Issue 3 had passed, the predicted success of a second ballot measure may have spoiled ResponsibleOhio’s plans. Issue 2 is intended to prohibit monopolies from being written into the state constitution. Supporters of this measure say that its language would effectively nullify Issue 3 if both initiatives were to pass. As things stand right now, votes in favor of Issue 2 have a narrow edge on the no votes.

Some legalization supporters believe that the case can still be made for recreational and medical marijuana in the state and are looking ahead to next year to put together a measure that will garner even more attention from voters because of the presidential election.

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