May 21, 2024

anti-weedThe 2015 election season is over. On Nov. 3, local voters made their decision. In addition to various local races and school levies, Ohio residents voted on no less than three separate amendments to the state constitution.
In Springfield, Warren Copeland, professor of religion and director of urban studies at Wittenberg, was re-elected as Mayor, garnering 63 percent of the vote. Kevin O’Neil, running unopposed, was re-elected to the city commission. The Clark County Park District won its renewal of a $600,000 levy, and the Clark County Historical Society lost its bid for an additional $300,000.
At the state level, voters decided on three separate amendments to the state constitution. Issue 1 passed with 71 percent of voters voting ‘yes.’ Issue 1 did not get much press coverage leading up to the election, but it was viewed by many as important. The change will create a bipartisan seven-member redistricting board for redrawing Ohio districts. Under the old system, districts were redrawn by a five-member board made up of the governor, the state auditor, the secretary of state and two members chosen by party leaders. This had the effect of allowing the majority party to draw new district lines.
Under the new system, the seven-member bipartisan board will consist of the governor, the state auditor, the secretary of state, one person appointed by the Speaker of the Ohio House, one person appointed by the minority party in the House, one person appointed by the president of the Ohio Senate and one person appointed by the minority party in the Senate. To approve new districts, a majority of the board consisting of two members of each party must agree. In the event that no agreement can be reached, a simple majority vote will suffice, but the new districts must be redrawn in four years.
Issue 2 passed with just shy of 52 percent approval. Issue 2 was touted as an anti-monopoly measure that would effectively nullify the controversial Issue 3, as well as change the state constitution to prohibit the use of voter initiatives for granting corporations legal protection from competition. The amendment also included language to cover oligopolies, where a market is shared by a small amount of competitors, and forbidding Ohio voters from deciding tax rates by initiative.
Issue 3, the controversial proposal to legalize marijuana and grant exclusive ownership of the grow sites to 10 separate investors was defeated by a wide margin, with only 36 percent of voters approving of the measure. The issue was widely criticized, even by pro-reform groups, due to the many stipulations in the language. In addition to the oligopoly on growing granted by the proposal, restrictions would have been placed on the amount one could grow and where he or she could buy seeds. There was also criticism of the punitive measures in the proposal, with many fearing that they would actually be worse for those caught in possession underage than the current law. With its failure, there will be no changes to Ohio marijuana law.

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