The proposals Ohio voters were asked to consider were somewhat confusing. Issue 3- legalization- was countered by Issue 2, which stipulates that it is illegal to insert economic privileges into the state constitution, which Issue 3 essentially did by stipulating a limited number of growing licenses be issued to predetermined recipients and leaving the rest out in the cold, thus essentially creating a growers cartel.
Some voters were obviously opposed to legalization itself, but there were also many who support legalization, yet are opposed to setting up monopolies for big business with little or no mention of taxes, education, etc.
And then there was “Buddie”.
Buddie is the mascot for the legalization movement in Ohio, and can best be summed up in the words of my 14 year old daughter. When shown a picture of Buddie, she said, “Oh my God, that’s awful!”
Thus even my child saw how irresponsible it was to include a mascot that could easily be construed as appealing to children.
The number one argument of opponents to reform has consistently been a fear that kids would take up toking as a result of legalization. In my recent visit to Denver, I found the exact opposite to be true.
Marijuana dispensaries were clean, efficient and safe. They require ID to enter and if you go in, you must buy. No window shopping and no children at all.
The staff was very helpful and professional. Indeed, it was very much like purchasing alcohol at a Pennsylvania State store.
And the numbers bear this out. Colorado has actually seen a drop in marijuana use by those under 18 since legalization.
And yet, here’s Buddie. In the eyes of opponents, it was like Disney World had opened a park dedicated to Cheech and Chong, complete with a smiling character based on a bud for the children to play with.
It might be the single dumbest move ever in the history of the legalization movement.
Coupled with the confusion created by Issue 2 and Issue 3, and the reluctance of many supporters to embrace creating a monopoly, it’s no wonder the measure failed to pass.
It stands as a warning to those of us in the movement to legalize. Even though there are states that have passed legalization, giving impetus to others to continue the fight, it has also created a sense of false hope that it would become easier now that Colorado and others have legalized weed.
Ohio stands as a stark reminder that the fight is going to be a hard one that is going to continue.
Here in Pennsylvania, we have consistently taken a two pronged approach to the fight. The first is that Marijuana is quite simply medicine for many people with chronic medical conditions.
The second is RESPONSIBLE USE by ADULTS, regulated in the same way we regulate the consumption of alcohol.
We have consistently advocated not just for legalization, but for educational programs that would steer kids away from marijuana until they are legally old enough to make the decision for themselves. No one in Pittsburgh NORML would for a moment suggest doing anything that might impede or contradict that policy.
“Responsible Ohio”, the advocacy group, in creating a mascot that flies in the face of that logic in the way Buddie does, could hardly be considered being responsible.