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Latest Battle Over Legalizing Marijuana Hits The Polls In Ohio

Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, greets passing college students at Miami University last month in Oxford, Ohio.
John Minchillo
/
AP
Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, greets passing college students at Miami University last month in Oxford, Ohio.

Ohio voters will decide Tuesday on whether or not to legalize marijuana in the state — if approved, it would become the fifth state in the country to do so.

On the ballot are dueling Issues 2 and 3, proposed state constitutional amendments. Issue 3 would allow medical and recreational use for people 21 and over. Issue 2 would ban commercial monopolies from being written into the Constitution. That initiative was pushed by lawmakers in response to Issue 3, which would give 10 sites exclusive rights to grow the drug commercially.

If both pass, there will likely be a court fight. The polls show a really close split with lots of likely voters unsure how they'll vote.

Here's the short read on what you need to know:

Issue 3: Medical and Recreational Use

Overview: It began with a citizens' petition effort and would make Ohio the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana. It would allow medical use and recreational use for people 21 and older.

Personal use and growth: People with a $50 license can grow up to four plants. Each household will be allowed to have up to eight ounces. No consumption in public places will be allowed in any form.

Commercial growth and sale: The measure would write into the Ohio Constitution the 10 cannabis firms that would have exclusive rights to grow commercially. The sites will be in Lorain, Summit, Stark, Hamilton, Clermont, Lucas, Licking, Delaware, Butler and Franklin counties. It also would authorize retail stores, limiting them to no more than one per 10,000 residents.

The state's financial stake: Ohio will also collect 15 percent taxes on gross revenue from the manufacturers and 5 percent from retailers. Backers say that will come to half a billion dollars a year.

Who's who: The backers of ResponsibleOhio include NBA Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson, 98 Degrees Nich Lachy and NFL defensive end Frostee Rucker. The opponents include a wide swath of state officeholders including Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio House and Senate. The opposition of state lawmakers gave birth to Issue 2.

Issue 2: Banning Commercial Monopolies

Overview: When it looked like the marijuana legalization effort would make the ballot, lawmakers pushed a ballot measure for an Ohio Constitutional amendment that would ban commercial monopolies from being written into the Constitution.

What's at stake: This initiative is meant to counter Issue 3, which would give 10 sites exclusive rights to grow the marijuana commercially. If passed, it could give the Ohio Ballot board authority over ballot initiatives concerning monopolies — including marijuana and extending to other issues as well.

If both pass? That appears to be a subject of debate. One read is that Issue 2 would become law first because lawmakers approved it and Issue 3 came from citizens. But that's likely to head to a court fight.

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

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.