Tuesday could become a landmark day for the state of Ohio. Today voters there will have the choice to cast their ballots either for or against Issue 3. This ballot measure would, if approved, legalize the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana in Ohio.
This issue has prompted the usual back and forth from outspoken conservatives and the “legalize it” crowd. However, several new elements have also been thrown into the familiar argument and Ohio’s marijuana prospects are more complicated than the other four states that have legalized weed.
Here are the most important things for voters to know before they vote today.
What's The Same? The Old Arguments
This is important to recognize right at the top. It is true that Ohio provides some unique issues when it comes to marijuana (more on that later), but those new wrinkles have not undone the tried and true points of the debate. These are the big ones.
Con - Gateway Drug: The biggest con that the anti-legalization crew throws out when it comes to weed is the notion that it will lead to heavier drugs. The argument is that using weed may lead to using cocaine, or heroine, because it teaches kids at a young age how to obtain and enjoy illegal substances. Why stop at one?
Pro – Legalization Means Regulation and Monetization: The pro-legalization sect’s big argument is that legalization will allow the government to profit from and control marijuana and last.
Their reasoning is that weed will be consumed either way and voters may as well take the profit and power away from the criminals who currently peddle it.
To these people, legalizing weed means creating a positive from a negative and removing an unnecessary stigma from what they would call a “harmless” substance.
What's Different? Weed Monopolies
What makes Ohio so radically different from the other states that have legalized marijuana is that Ohio’s ballot measure would award the production rights of weed to only ten pre-selected farms. These farms (and their powerful investors) were the chief operators that got this measure on the ballot in the first place.
This has cost Issue 3 the same good-will support that the others states have used to pass their own legalization measure. Legalization movements usually center on increasing personal freedoms and preventing frivolous incarcerations. In Ohio, the narrative has been purely about money and that has hurt the measure drastically.
Ohio citizens may be prepared to legalize for holistic reasons, but they are understandably wary about voting to create an overnight monopoly in their state.
Conclusion: The Waters Are Murky
Issue 3 is much more suspicious of a measure than your average every day legalization campaign. The motivations behind the measures presence on the ballot seem purely monetary.
However, if you don’t take issue with any of that and still believe that weed needs to be legalized in Ohio than this may be your only chance for a while. Ohio has a Republican legislature and issues like this aren’t likely to come around very often.
Weigh the facts, pick your side, and cast a responsible, informed vote for what you believe in!
Continue Reading: 3 Reasons Why Marijuana Is The New Gay Marriage
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