Ohio Voters Reject Legal Pot with a 'Corporate Face'

Ohio on Tuesday voted down a contentious marijuana legalization bill that would have allowed medical and recreational use of pot but also granted exclusive production rights to a small network of 10 growing facilities.

Opponents of Issue 3, which included some legalization advocates, warned that it would help create a “marijuana monopoly” for the wealthy investors who owned the would-be production sites and were bankrolling the measure.

“The people of Ohio have understandably rejected a deeply flawed, monopolistic approach to marijuana reform that failed to garner broad support from advocates or industry leaders,” National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith said on Tuesday after the vote. “This debate has shown that there is a strong base of support for legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Now the foundation has been laid for a potential 2016 effort that would put forward a more common-sense initiative and have a major impact on the presidential conversation in the process.”

Issue 3, backed by a group called ResponsibleOhio, would also have allowed adults over 21 years old to use, grow, and purchase small amounts of marijuana for recreational use and allowed others to use it medicinally. If it passed, Ohio would have become the first state in the country to end weed prohibition altogether without first legalizing medical marijuana.

But the controversy over corporate licenses was troubling enough to turn off even the staunchest advocates.