Buckeye Blowout: Ohio Overwhelmingly Approves Legalization of Adult-Use Pot
Whether the state is blue (Democratic) or red (Republican) or purple (divided), the consensus increasingly leans towards one color…green.
Ohio is ruby red “Trump country,” and yet on Tuesday, November 7, the state’s voters approved a referendum on the ballot that legalizes adult-use (i.e. recreational) marijuana. Medical marijuana had already been legal in the Buckeye State since 2016.
The margin of victory was a blowout:
Democrats had a good night throughout the country in Tuesday’s off-year voting, but for our purposes, we’ll stay focused on the Ohio marijuana measure. Its passage cheered investors and lifted cannabis equities across the board.
Way to go, O-hi-oh…
The approved pot measure in Ohio, which takes effect December 7, legalizes the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and the cultivation of up to six plants, or 12 plants if two or more adults live in the same household. Within nine months of the effective date, state regulators must implement rules to start approving licensed retailers.
The vote makes Ohio the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use marijuana and furthers a trend of conservative states establishing legal markets. With Ohio, 53% of the U.S. population now live in a jurisdiction where anyone at least 21 years old can legally possess weed. As of today, 38 states allow the use of medical cannabis.
The Ohio measure, driven by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA), creates a regulatory framework to allow adults 21 and older to buy, possess and cultivate cannabis. The measure passed despite opposition from the Republican Governor Mike DeWine and GOP state lawmakers.
Remarkably, the measure passed with strong public support, even though Ohio is a red state whereby the Republican Party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both chambers of the state legislature. Donald Trump won the state in 2016 and in 2020.
There’s a caveat to the measure’s victory, though: anti-pot crusaders haven’t given up. Socially conservative Republicans in Ohio are now pushing to curtail or amend the measure, in defiance of the voters’ expressed will.
“This statute was written by the marijuana industry and should not be treated as a cash grab for their cash crop at the expense of a state trying to emerge from the opioid epidemic,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R) said in a statement following the vote. “The General Assembly may consider amending the statute to clarify the questionable language regarding limits for THC and tax rates as well as other parts of the statute.”
It’s a pattern we’ve seen emerge in recent years, whereby ideologues show disdain for democracy and voting results. That said, political analysts don’t expect these rearguard actions in Ohio to succeed.
The evidence is clear: the legalization of marijuana is overwhelmingly popular not just in Ohio, but throughout the U.S.
According to Gallup’s most recent poll on the topic, released November 8, seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years (see chart).
The Gallup poll was conducted Oct. 2-23. The results show that 29% of U.S. adults think marijuana should not be legal, while 1% are unsure.
For historical context, consider this: only 12% of Americans backed legalizing marijuana when Gallup first asked about it in 1969. At the time, Richard Nixon was president. Three years later, in 1971, Nixon would launch his ruinous and now discredited War on Drugs.
It’s widely acknowledged today that the War on Drugs was Nixon’s way of persecuting his perceived enemies (e.g., Blacks, the anti-war movement, the counterculture, and the political Left). Nixon couldn’t criminalize his opponents’ political activities, but he could use their proclivity for recreational drug use (especially marijuana) as a cudgel against them.
Over the ensuing decades, marijuana has been shedding its undeserved stigma, even in politically conservative states such as Ohio.
The U.S. cannabis industry has been in a slump this year, due to difficult macroeconomic conditions. However, legal weed is poised to breakout in 2024. According to cannabis industry researcher Brightfield Group, the market is estimated to reach over $31.8 billion in annual sales by the end of 2023, growing to $50.7 billion in annual sales by 2028.
Cashing in on the “green rush”…
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John Persinos is the chief investment strategist of Marijuana Profit Alert.