Ohio votes down legalizing pot for medical, recreational use

Election officials in two of Ohio's counties say lines of voters dwindled some after an early wave of Ohioans who cast their ballots early in the state's general election. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a single stroke, Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal Tuesday to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use.

Failure of the proposed state constitutional amendment followed an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording and an investigation into the proposal’s petition signatures.

The measure known as Issue 3 ballot would have allowed adults 21 and older to use, purchase or grow certain amounts of marijuana. The constitutional amendment would have established a regulatory and taxation scheme while creating a network of 10 growing facilities. That feature was a target of opponents as well as a separate ballot question aimed at preventing monopolies from being inserted into Ohio’s constitution for the economic benefits of a few.

The pro-legalization ResponsibleOhio campaign spent at least $12 million on ads. But it faced opposition from a well-organized, diverse coalition of opponents that includes children’s hospitals, business organizations and farmers.

Critics said the proposal’s arrangement would amount to an economic monopoly designed for personal gain.

Turnout was low as early presidential politicking largely overshadowed campaigns and exacerbated voter disinterest that generally accompanies an off-year election.

At an elementary school in the northern Cincinnati suburb of West Chester, Beth Zielenski, said she voted no on the marijuana question. The mother of one from West Chester cited concerns about how marijuana and edible pot products would be regulated.

Timothy Shearer, 47, said he voted for the initiative. “I don’t think it will cause more problems,” he said.

Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana.

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