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Last night, a controversial Ohio ballot initiative that would have regulated marijuana for adults was voted down by a relatively wide margin, marking the first time that a major state referendum to make marijuana legal for adults has failed since 2010. However, the defeat of a marijuana-related ballot initiative in the Buckeye State will have no bearing on the outcomes of several marijuana-related initiatives expected to appear on state ballots next year.
A proposal to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol has already qualified for the November 2016 ballot in Nevada, and similar measures are expected to qualify for the ballots in Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. The measures do not include the widely unpopular “monopoly” language included in the 2015 Ohio initiative that limited the commercial cultivation of marijuana to only 10 predetermined producers. The 2016 initiatives are also expected to benefit significantly from heightened voter turnout during a presidential election.
MPP is supporting several of the 2016 initiative efforts. We neither supported nor opposed the Ohio initiative this year.
“It’s pretty obvious that the outcome in Ohio does not reflect where the nation stands or the direction in which it is heading when it comes to marijuana policy,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “It only reflects where Ohio voters stand on a specific and rather unique proposal in an off-year election. It will not have any bearing on the outcomes of the initiatives that we expect to appear on other states’ ballots in 2016.
“When voters in Nevada or Massachusetts get to the ballot box one year from now, they are not going to be thinking about what happened in Ohio a year earlier. They are going to be thinking about the problems marijuana prohibition has caused their states for so many years and the benefits of replacing it with a more sensible system. These initiatives will also benefit from heightened voter turnout during a presidential election year. The more voters that turn out, the more support we tend to see for marijuana policy reform.
“Polls show a strong and growing majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal for adults. There is a lot of momentum building behind the movement to end marijuana prohibition heading into 2016. Election Day was relatively uneventful this year, but next year it will be truly historic.”
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