Ohio is on slate as the next state to vote on legalizing marijuana, and a new poll suggests voter support for the idea is strong – strong enough it might pass in November.
Reform advocates are pushing a petition that would legalize possession, sale, cultivation, and use of marijuana for any reason, medical or recreational. The poll, released by Kent State University in October, found that fully 58 percent of Ohio’s registered voters would support letting adults possess small amounts of weed for personal use.
The poll, commissioned by local television station WKYC-TV, surveyed 500 registered voters on petitions that will appear on the November ballot. The first would add language to the state constitution blocking business monopolies, while the second would legalize cannabis.
Issue 3, as it’s called, would designate 10 commercial cultivation sites, each delivering product to several retail dispensaries. It would also create a system for the growing, processing, and sale of medical marijuana. Ohio law currently bans cannabis for any use, though the drug is decriminalized.
That means adults cannot go to jail if they’re caught with small amounts of pot. Instead, they face relatively small civil fines. Legalization, on the other hand, would open the door to a full retail marijuana industry, with farms, processors, transporters, and dispensaries. Simple possession would be completely legal for adults over 21.
The WKYC-TV poll found that 84 percent of Ohio registered voters said they back MMJ and would “support allowing adults in Ohio to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.” This is in line with most polls from elsewhere in the United States, as support for medical weed regularly tops 80 percent in national and state-level polls.
Majority support on the marijuana question
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they plan to vote “yes” on Issue 3, the marijuana question, while 54 percent said they would vote yes on Issue 2, the monopoly question. About 34 percent of respondents said they opposed Issue 3, while 10 percent said they were undecided. On Issue 2, 20 percent opposed the idea while 26 percent said they were undecided.
“If the election were held today and nearly all registered voters participated, both Issue 2 and Issue 3 would likely pass, leading to a constitutional crisis,” said Kent State associate political science professor Ryan Claassen. “About 57 percent of voters that plan to vote yes on Issue 2 also plan to vote yes for Issue 3.”
The two items conflict because Issue 2 would prevent exactly the sort of business hierarchy envisioned by the backers of Issue 3. Without the power to build a quasi-monopoly industry, Issue 3 would fall apart. Experts have been at odds to explain what would happen if both issues pass.
A previous poll, issued earlier in October by Quinnipiac University, found that about 54 percent supported legalization while 44 percent opposed it.