Recently the Marijuana Policy Project launched their Ohioans for Medical Marijuana campaign by releasing the initiative they are going to try to get on the November ballot. It would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patients could grow their own or buy from licensed dispensaries. There is every reason to suspect this newly unveiled measure will succeed.
While running a successful initiative campaign in a state as large as Ohio is a very difficult and costly endeavour, MPP has proven they have both the logistical and financial know-how necessary to get their measures on the ballot. For years they have been the main force behind numerous state and local ballot measures, including: the 2014 initiative that legalized marijuana in Alaska, the 2012 legalization measure in Colorado, and the 2010 medical marijuana ballot measure approved in Arizona. Since MPP is working on several other high-profile statewide campaigns this cycle, they wouldn’t have taken on this project without believing they have a very good chance of making it on the ballot.
Even though just last year voters rejected ResponsibleOhio’s legalization ballot measure by a two-to-one margin, there are three big reasons to believe this new medical marijuana initiative will fare much better if it makes the ballot.
1) Turnout – Young people are the strongest supporters of marijuana reform, but they tend to be infrequent voters who turn out only for big elections. As a result, placing a marijuana measure on the ballot in an odd-number year is a strategic mistake. In 2015 just over 3.2 million Ohioans cast a ballot on the legalization measure. By comparison, almost 4.9 million voted on the state’s 2012 redistricting measure.
2) Monopoly concerns – ResponsibleOhio’s initiative was heavily attacked for only allowing 10 predetermined grow facilities to control the entire commercial supply. This drew heavy criticism from both critics of marijuana and longtime marijuana advocates. The Ohio legislature even placed their own anti-monopoly measure on the ballot to counter it. The crony capitalism controversy caused the measure to dramatically underperform. By comparison, this new medical marijuana initiative will allow for up to 15 licenses for very large grow sites and unlimited licenses for midsized grow operations. Most importantly, the application process for all licenses will be open.
3) Medical marijuana is way more popular than recreational legalization – While a majority of the country now supports legalizing recreational marijuana, support for medical marijuana has always been dramatically higher. A Quinnipiac poll of Ohio from last year found 53 percent of voters support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and 44 oppose legalization. Yet an incredible 90 percent of Ohioans support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it. Few voters want to deny sick people something that might help them.
There are no guarantees in politics. With something as complex and expensive as an initiative campaign, there is always the potential for unexpected problems — like the convoluted legal dispute the Maine legalization campaign is in over the quality of one notary’s signature. But the odds look very good that Ohio will soon have medical marijuana