Poll Finds Ohio Voters Both Favor and Oppose Marijuana Legalization

A legalization initiative and a measure aimed at nullifying it both get majority support.


Responsible Ohio

Accordiing to a recent survey commissioned by WKYC, the NBC station in Cleveland, most Ohio voters support Issue 3, an initiative on next month's ballot that would legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. The same survey found that most voters also support Issue 2, an initiative aimed at nullifying Issue 3. In fact, most of the voters who favor Issue 2 said they favor Issue 3 as well.

"Somehow, a majority of registered voters supports the legalization initaitive, and a majority supports the initiative that would prohibit legalization from taking effect," writes Kent State political scientist Ryan Claassen, who helped conduct the WKYC poll. Specifically, 56 percent said they'd vote for Issue 3 and 54 percent said they'd vote for Issue 2, while 57 percent of Issue 2 supporters also favored Issue 3. 

What gives? As I noted a couple of months ago, Issue 2 was cleverly crafted by prohibitionist legislators to take aim at the most controversial aspect of Issue 3, one that bothers many people who otherwise support legalization: The initiative, which is a consitutional amendment, would establish a commercial cannabis cultivation cartel consisting of Issue 3's financial backers. Issue 2, which is also a constitutional amendment, prohibits the use of the initiative process to enshrine such economic privileges in the state constitution.

Should both initiatives pass, which the WKYC poll suggests is entirely possible, it is not clear what will happen. "The only certainty is litigation," Claassen says. Ordinarily the amendment receiving more votes would prevail, but initiatives placed on the ballot by the state legislature, as Issue 2 was, take effect immediately, whereas initiatives placed on the ballot by petition, as Issue 3 was, take effect 30 days after the election. That suggests Issue 2 would pre-empt Issue 3 even if it received fewer votes. Furthermore, Issue 2 includes a provision that says its passage would invalidate all of Issue 3, not just the part creating a cultivation cartel.

The 56 percent support for legalization in the WKYC survey is about the same (taking into account margins of error) as the 53 percent support found in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted in late September and early October. But WKYC notes that voters in off-year elections, when turnout is lower, "tend to be older and more Republican than the eligible electorate." That's relevant to the fate of Issue 3 because support for marijuana legalization is stronger among younger voters and Democrats. In the WKYC poll, 64 percent of 18-to-30-year-olds and 71 percent of 31-to-40-year-olds said they'd vote for Issue 3, compared to 46 percent of 61-to-70-year-olds and just 29 percent of respondents older than 70. There was also a clear partisan difference: 67 percent of Democrats said they'd vote for Issue 3, compared to 45 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of independents.

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  1. The crony libertarian moment arrives in the Buckeye State.

  2. The only certainty is litigation

    Lawyers win again.

  3. Let’s be fair to the voters of Ohio.

    Here is most of the official ballot text of issue 2.

    Anti-monopoly amendment; protects the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit

    Proposed Constitutional Amendment

    Proposed by Joint Resolution of the General Assembly
    Proposing to amend Section 1e of Article II of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

    A majority yes vote is necessary for the amendment to pass.

    The proposed amendment would:

    Prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit or to establish a preferential tax status.

    Prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a commercial interest, right, or license that is not available to similarly situated persons or nonpublic entities.

    Require the bipartisan Ohio Ballot Board to determine if a proposed constitutional amendment violates the prohibitions above, and if it does, present two separate ballot questions to voters. Both ballot questions must receive a majority yes vote before the proposed amendment could take effect.

    Prohibit from taking effect any proposed constitutional amendment appearing on the November 3, 2015 General Election ballot that creates a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for the sale, distribution, or other use of any federal Schedule I controlled substance….

    1. How was the poll question phrased?

      If it was phrased in a way that the voters had to choose the lesser of two evils – a marijuana cartel or continued jailing of marijuana offenders – and that Issue 2 involved the latter and issue 3 the former – then how would they respond?

      1. 84% support mj legalization. The monopoly is the only thing standing in its way. The casinos were voted in with a constitutional monopoly. I’m guessing the powers that be will grandfather them.

      2. I live in Columbus and cannot tell you how many people call in to the local radio station saying they support legalization but won’t support it because of the cartel.

        1. That’s good news, because it says support for mj legaliz’n doesn’t depend on the votes of people who want to limit it in such a way. Then it would appear to be simple enough to enact in the near future.

          1. That is my hope

  4. I’d definitely vote for #1, maybe #2 as well. #2 would be insurance against others taking things that otherwise anybody’d be allowed to do, & restricting them to licensees. Unfortunately as in the present case, it’d also prevent them taking things otherwise illegal for anybody & allowing licensees to do them. It’d be ineffective vs. legislation or statutory initiative, but helpful in case a voter initiatve by, say, a taxi oligopoly to maintain their status, threatened to be put in the constitution. Depends what you think the future’s likely to hold.

    1. Darn, I meant #3, not #1.

  5. The prohibs can do fancy wording and funny tricks like this all they want. It’s a desperate final stand against the inevitability of MJ legalization and acceptance. Libertarian Moment.

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