There's a Silver Lining to Ohio Rejecting Marijuana Tonight

November 3rd 2015

Ohio voters rejected a state initiative to legalize marijuana on Tuesday, to the disappointment and relief of advocates statewide. On the one hand, there was a lot riding on a "yes" vote to legalize, with national marijuana advocacy organizations and enthusiasts holding out hope that Ohio would become the fifth state in the country to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

RELATED: Many Eyes Are Focusing on Ohio's Marijuana Vote

On the other hand, the state initiative, Issue 3, fueled controversy—even for those on the same side of the issue. The law would have given a group of wealthy investors, including Nick Lachey, who donated about $20 million to the campaign exclusive rights over growing operations, sparking fears about a possible marijuana monopoly in Ohio. But while supporters might feel let down, there's a silver lining to consider.

Why a "no" vote for legal marijuana in Ohio is a bad thing.

marijuanaFlickr / r0bz - flic.kr

For the past few years, there has been significant momentum building behind the marijuana legalization movement, and a defeat in Ohio could be seen as a setback. Whether or not this decision affects public opinion about legalization efforts nationwide is yet to be determined, of course, but for advocacy organizations such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), it's not good news. While advocates generally agreed that the initiative was imperfect, many considered the opportunity to legalize too important to pass up.

Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, released a statement:

"Tonight's results—and the choices that inevitably led up to them—are especially sad for Ohioans who use marijuana and will continue to be treated like criminals for no good reason. And this is particularly heartbreaking for those who need medical cannabis to treat serious ailments."

Why a "no" vote for legal marijuana in Ohio is a good thing.

For advocates, there is always another election cycle and another legalization ballot. It might not have passed this time, but Ohio voters can reasonably expect more opportunities to legalize medical or recreational cannabis in the future. After all, a recent Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of American adults supported marijuana legalization.

For advocates, it has become increasingly common to expect state-level legalization efforts to pass, so if there is a plus-side to the rejection of Issue 3, perhaps it is that this defeat will rally advocates, motivating them to take state initiatives more seriously. When you suffer a defeat, you are more motivated to win next time. At the very least, Tuesday's decision offers an opportunity to craft a legalization initiative that is not derailed by concerns over marijuana monopolies.

RELATED: These 17 States Could Have Legalized Marijuana After Next Year

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