A new survey finds that most legislators from both parties think the reform measure will be approved by voters this coming Election Day.
The contentious and polarizing battle over marijuana legalization is coming down to the wire in Ohio, and state leaders are now weighing in on the much-anticipated vote on Nov. 7. According to a new survey of Buckeye State lawmakers, 54% believe Ohioans will vote to approve a ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis next month.
The belief that voters will soon be bringing prohibition to an end crosses party lines, with 63% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans saying that Issue 2 will pass, even though the GOP-controlled Senate recently ratified a resolution encouraging voters to reject the measure.
Werth PR and the Gongwer News Service conducted the survey, which interviewed 35 members of the Ohio legislature between October 17 and 19, representing roughly a quarter (26.5%) of the state's 99 House members and 33 senators. Of those surveyed, only nine percent were undecided.
The poll results by state lawmakers align with the findings of a recent survey of likely Ohio voters conducted by Fallon Research & Communications. That poll indicated that 59% of registered voters approve of the marijuana legalization ballot initiative, including a plurality of Republicans.
However, even though a majority of legislators believe the measure will pass, a significant number of Republicans do not want it to and are already taking steps to diminish the power and reach of the initiative if it does receive majority voter approval.
Last week, Senate President Matt Huffman gave a rousing, if not wholly authentic, speech on the Ohio State Senate floor expressing his intense opposition to Issue 2, proclaiming that, if it passes, the legislation will be "coming right back before this body" and will likely receive changes.
He later pulled back on his statement, clarifying that he would not be seeking a full repeal of the legalization effort but would instead "advocate for reviewing it and repealing things or changing things that are in it."
Echoing those sentiments, several Ohio lawmakers said last month that it was doubtful the legislature would seek to overturn a voter-passed legalization law. "There are not a majority of legislators in both chambers that would be pro-repeal. That's definitely not the case. You would have no Democrats, and there are not enough Republicans to put them at the top," said Rep. Ron Ferguson (R).
"There are not a majority of legislators in both chambers that would be pro-repeal. That's definitely not the case. You would have no Democrats, and there are not enough Republicans to put them at the top."
- Ohio State Rep. Ron Ferguson (R)
The Ohio case study is reflective of how the entire nation views the legality issue, with a majority of voters advocating for change. At the same time, a minority number of politicians and special interest groups loudly clamor for cannabis to remain illegal.
The question of whether marijuana prohibition will end is not in doubt. With almost half the states already boasting legal and regulated adult-use markets and over 80% of them with some medical cannabis program, it is clear America will enjoy full nationwide legalization within the next ten to 15 years.
However, establishing the most stable foundation for that massive and lucrative economic juggernaut will be vital, especially for the legion of small to medium-sized businesses that will ultimately comprise most of the industry. Ensuring their voice and ability to compete is paramount to the long-term viability and stability of the young and burgeoning market sector.
A healthy level of checks and balances, particularly concerning the influence of large multi-state operators, must be maintained at all levels of the political and economic process. If not, the greedy hands of Big Corporate Cannabis could enter the fray and wreak havoc on an industry already beleaguered by regulatory ineptitude, severe banking restrictions, and over-taxation.
With Election Day less than two weeks away, it is imperative that every citizen with the right to vote exercises it. It's the only way to let politicians and business leaders genuinely know the people's will.