Ohio voters Tuesday soundly rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have legalized marijuana in Ohio and opened the door to a multi-million dollar industry growing and selling the plant.
With 97 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, 64 percent of Ohio voters were saying no to the plan, while 36 percent were saying they supported it.
It was a massive failure for ResponsibleOhio and its wealthy backers, most of whom would have profited from the legal growing and sale of marijuana, and came after they spent nearly $15 million on TV ads and mail pieces trying to convince Ohioans.
Curt Steiner, the spokesman for the anti-Issue 3 committee, told Andy Chow of Ohio Public Radio and reporters in Columbus that “Ohio voters locked arms with supporting organizations and thousands of volunteers. Ohio voters said a resounding no to a marijuana monopoly in Ohio.”
ResponsibleOhio campaign manager Ian James told reporters in Columbus that "it is just a bump in the road" and that "the work continues," according to Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles.
Ohioans clearly weren’t buying the plan. There appeared to be three kinds of voters in this election – those totally opposed to legalized marijuana, those who favor legal marijuana and those who favored the plan laid out in Issue 3, a constitutional amendment.
Another constitutional amendment, Issue 2, was put on the ballot by the Ohio legislature and would have banned monopolies in Ohio, and in particular the marijuana industry. It was passing with nearly 53 percent of the vote.
Under Issue 3, which would have become part of the state constitution, there would be 10 marijuana grown and extraction facilities which would have the exclusive rights to production. But ResponsibleOhio leaders emphasized that the ownership groups would be competitors and there would be no price-fixing in the marijuana market.
The list of owners contain some familiar names – former boy band singer Nick Lachey, Cincinnati basketball legend Oscar Robertson, NFL player Frostee Rucker, former radio host Frank Wood, philanthropist Barbara Gould and Woody and Dudley Taft, two descendants of President William Howard Taft.
The anti-Issue 3 group – Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies – was far outspent by proponents.
The anti-Issue 3 forces reported having $712,585 as of Oct. 14, with $500,000 of that coming from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s political arm, Partnership for Ohio’s Future. The Ohio Chamber itself kicked in another $100,000.
Most of the $15.4 million raised through Oct. 14 by ResponsibleOhio came from the investors in the growing facilities. The largest donation came from Cincinnatian Frank Wood’s DGF LLC, which gave $2.35 million to the campaign.