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Ohio Voters Reject Legalized Marijuana


A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana failed in Ohio yesterday. And voters approved a separate amendment that will make it harder to try again. Yet, somehow marijuana advocates ended the night feeling hopeful. M.L. Schultze of WKSU explains.

M.L. SCHULTZE, BYLINE: Close to 3 million Ohioans voted on the marijuana legalization, and nearly two-thirds said no. Jim Gumpl, an Akron Democrat, was one. He says marijuana smoke irritates his allergies. And then there's another concern.

JIM GUMPL: Monopolies.

SCHULTZE: He's referring to the unique aspect of Ohio's measure known as Issue 3. It would have created 10 commercial growing sites and granted exclusive rights to the financial backers of the ballot proposal. Over the protests of those backers, the ballot language included the word, monopoly. Stephen Brooks, a political scientist at the University of Akron, said that was a brilliant maneuver by opponents.

STEPHEN BROOKS: The anti-3 folks did a very good job with a lot less money just raising doubts. And most people that I know of are never a hundred percent sure that legalizing marijuana is a good idea, nor are they a hundred percent sure that it should never see the light of day.

SCHULTZE: For example, Kelly Brault voted no on Issue 3. Still...

KELLY BRAULT: I believe in medical marijuana. But I just think - I don't think we're there yet - maybe someday (laughter) but just not now.

SCHULTZE: But there are signs that day may be getting closer. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and state lawmakers, who were among the fiercest critics of Issue 3, say now may be the time to debate that in the state legislature. For that, Issue 3 spokesman Ian James takes credit.

IAN JAMES: We have literally changed the dialogue in Ohio. We've made sure that people understand how important it is to legalize marijuana.

SCHULTZE: What did not change is that for now, marijuana cultivation, sale and use in Ohio remains illegal. For NPR News, I'm M.L. Schultze in Akron, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.
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