Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marijuana legalization initiative on 2015 Ohio ballot

Ohio prepares to vote on marijuana legalization: which states will be next? | US news | The Guardian - Scott Keyes:

August 17, 2015 - "Ohio officials approved a bid last week to get recreational and medical marijuana legalization on the 3 November ballot. Thus far, Ohio is the only state where voters will consider pot legalization in the 2015 election. But ... a number of states, including California, Massachusetts and Arizona, are already laying the groundwork to legalize recreational pot. They just won’t put it on the ballot until 2016, lining up with the presidential election.

"The conventional wisdom has been that such votes are more likely to pass if they’re held during presidential elections when turnout is significantly higher....

"What’s indisputable, though, is that legalization advocates across the country have momentum. Recreational marijuana has been on a winning streak since 2012, and by 2016 the number of states embracing legalization could more than double....

"ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James said his group targeted 2015 precisely because there will be lower turnout. 'Seventy-four per cent of votes in off-off year elections comes from major metros and college counties. Those tend to be more our voters,' he said. In effect, James is betting that thousands of young voters who wouldn’t have shown up otherwise will turn out this November to vote for legalization, enough to swing a low-turnout election.

"In addition, James argued: 'Having a smaller turnout lets us have a much deeper, more adult discussion with voters. Unlike in a presidential year when it becomes more of a partisan vote, we don’t have that partisan angle to this'....

""The only public polling on the matter, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found 52% of voters in favor and 44% opposed to legalization in Ohio. According to ResponsibleOhio’s internal polling, support is, unsurprisingly, highest among young voters and, surprisingly, extraordinarily high even among Republicans between the ages of 18 and 35, with around 80% in favor....

"The group submitted 320,267 valid signatures to get the ballot initiative approved, just clearing the minimum of 305,591 signatures from Ohio voters.

"If the initiative passes, advocates say, Ohio could enjoy a significant tax revenue windfall, as states like Colorado have, in addition to law enforcement savings on the $100m the state now spends enforcing marijuana prohibition. 'You’re filling potholes with pot money,' James said. And as in other states, the initiative also aims to address racial disparities. In Ohio, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses than white Ohioans, despite similar rates of usage."

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/17/legalized-marijuana-states-recreational-medicinal-ohio
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