As America goes to vote today, several states, counties, and municipalities are considering cannabis-related issues. Below is a short list rundown of some of the major efforts in three states: Oregon, Ohio, and Colorado.
Oregon Counties: Banning Sales?
In Oregon, many counties and cities are voting on whether to ban recreational sales of the plant. In counties that received at least 55% of the vote for legalization a couple of years back, a ballot issue must be presented to voters in the county to again decide if they want to ban sales within their own borders (counties can’t negate the legality of cannabis possession and consumption—that would defy state law).
Those counties in Oregon that received under 55% of the vote during the state election can simply decide that they want to ban sales by a legal mechanism like a city council resolution involving no popular vote. Thus, a county in which 54% of the voters said yes to legal recreational cannabis for the state of Oregon may find itself facing a ban on rec sales after a conservative city council goes against the obvious will of the voters.
This sad and divisive state of affairs exemplifies the fact that the anti-cannabis culture war is alive and well. The Drug War may be gearing down, but cultural resistance to cannabis and those who use or even celebrate it is alive and well.
Evangelicals, conservatives, and those who pine for the nonexistent “good ol’ days” are organizing on social media and combining their forces to prevent national, federal legalization of medical or lifestyle cannabis. People of this mindset consider medical to simply be a ruse intended to allow full legalization to take over the nation (and for some activists, it probably is). Forget helping patients, fear mongering is the rule of the day among conservatives hellbent on preventing a dispensary, retail outlet, or cannabis social lounge from appearing in their community.
Ohio: Fully Legalizing?
In Ohio, of course, there’s the controversial and very schizophrenic ResponsibleOhio-backed Issue 3 to fully legalize cannabis possession and consumption. More on this after the election. Personally, I’m hoping it passes and that Issue 2, the Legislature-sponsored anti-monopoly bill, fails. Why? Because a failure of Issue 3 would be bad for the national momentum of the cannabis legalization movement.
Yes, I hate oligopolies and the often-greedy two percenters. But the big picture goal is full national legalization and the right for all tax-paying citizens to cultivate. Until that goal is achieved, intelligent strategy must prevail and some setbacks will inevitably be endured. It’s called politics because getting some of what we want doesn’t always involve getting everything we want, regardless of whether we’re “right.”
Issue 3 is bad in many respects. Many pundits are ardently opposed to many parts of it. However, the majority of those same experts are advocating for passage of Issue 3. If it fails—and Issue 2 succeeds—it will spell a long and difficult road for the Buckeye State to join the ranks of those states that have chosen the very progressive route of fully regulated and taxed legalization for adults 21 and over.
Even worse, it will be cited by conservative voices as an example of how moderate and conservative voters in America’s heartland don’t want legal pot, be it medical or recreational. If passed, even if it was negated by passage of Issue 2, Issue 3 will send a signal that more traditional states from untraditional parts of the country are also onboard with the full legalization of cannabis, including its many economic bennies.
Colorado: Show Me The Money?
And in Colorado, citizens will vote to determine if the state must return about $66 million in tax revenues collected from recreational pot sales. Personally, while I’m not currently residing in Colorado, I say let the state keep it. It makes even more impressive the state’s metrics when it comes to tax revenues and assistance to a struggling educational infrastructure and deteriorating roads. And these numbers are simply getting bigger and bigger each month.
Those of you in legal states, enjoy your newfound freedom. Those still struggling to gain safe, regulated access to reasonably priced, high-quality open-market cannabis and cannabis products in most parts of the country must continue to be patient—or move to a legal state.
With four states and D.C. now on our side, there are at least options. Seattle, Denver, and Portland are all excellent cities with vibrant economies, even moreso now that they have legalized and are collecting taxes.
Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, Skunk, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.