Residents of Ohio went to the polls last week to vote on legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Although indications were that the initiative would pass, voters ultimately rejected it.
Will 2016 see a revamped initiative get the nod from the state's voters? Motley Fool analyst Kristine Harjes and contributor Todd Campbell are here to weigh in on the latest developments.
Listen to the full podcast by clicking here. A transcript follows the video.
Kristine Harjes: Todd, do you want to do a quick recap of what happened last night in the voting booths?
Todd Campbell: Sure. I think one of the most intriguing things from anyone who's either a proponent or an opponent of the legalization of marijuana, was watching very closely what happened in Ohio. There was a lot of stuff going on in the background over the last couple of weeks leading up to the Ohio election, which basically had a measure on its ballot saying they want to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana.
Harjes: This is the first time that we've seen both in one vote.
Campbell: Yeah. If it had gone through -- and it didn't -- then it would have been the first time that recreational would have come along at the same time, or before medical in that state. But it didn't. It didn't happen. The vote was a resounding "no". They weren't going to do it. I think that makes a lot of people who are hoping for changes to legislation, especially in Ohio, look at the headline and go "What does this mean for Ohio? What does this mean for potential items to be on the ballot next year in a lot of other states?"
Harjes: I think one of the reasons that people might have been puzzled about that headline of "Ohio Turning Down Marijuana," people would be surprised because prior surveys show Ohio citizens supporting legalization overwhelmingly when you put it just to medical use. There's a big caveat though.
Campbell: Yeah. The caveat was that this was not your average marijuana legislation. What they did is had a bunch of farmers who got together and said they wanted to see if they could get approval for growing marijuana on their land. There were 10 parcels in particular that they were looking to get approval to grow marijuana on. People looked at that and asked why they were trying to limit the production to these 10 parcels, and pointed out how that was a monopoly.
It's really not; it's an oligopoly, but that's another story. Regardless, people in America don't care for monopolies because they think that's going to disadvantage the consumer; and rightly so. You have the opponents of this legislature coming out and saying this isn't the best way to do this and it doesn't make a lot of sense. They said "Why don't we turn it down and go back to square one?" They were convincing enough to enough people in the state to get the majority to vote against it. It was issue number 3 on the ballot.
They also had enough support to put issue number 2 on the ballot, which basically said you can't change the constitution in any way that will allow for a monopoly to be created so if issue 3 had passed it would have directly gone against issue number 2. It was very convoluted.
Harjes: You can see by their reaction to issue 2 where 1.55 million people said they do want the issue to pass and 1.45 said no. So it was a complex issue, but it was essentially intended to create a barrier to the creation of monopolies, or special tax conditions by requiring citizens to vote and actively waive the rules before voting on an issue itself that might create one of these situations. You can see by the reaction to that where people said they wanted this barrier in place that it implies this monopoly, or oligopoly situation is why issue 3 about marijuana was turned down.
Campbell: Right. Overwhelmingly, people want to have more control over the production of marijuana; the sale and distribution of marijuana. They don't want to limit it in a few hands like the tobacco industry did. They want to have it as diversified and as locally grown and distributed as they possibly can. This seemed to fly in the face of that and that's why a lot of the national organizations that support, or are advocating for changes in marijuana laws are distancing themselves from issue 3 and saying it should not be considered to be the blueprint for what will be seen on the ballots in other states in 2016.
This is a very unique situation. The story probably isn't over in Ohio. There will probably be other legislation that will get put forward and as long as it doesn't run afoul of issue number 2, that could pass. Like you said; polls overwhelming showed -- at least in terms of medical marijuana -- that people in Ohio support changing the law.
Harjes: This will definitely be a state to keep an eye on in the 2016 elections.
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