Tuesday is Election Day across the nation, and even though it's an off-year, it could make or break some crucial legislation. If you're an Ohio-based marijuana enthusiast, for instance, it could be your lucky day. For the first time in American history, Ohio state residents will vote simultaneously on medicinal and recreational marijuana. In the past, in states that have passed legalization legislation, medicinal users got the green light first, followed years later by recreational seekers. But Ohio voters are changing the marijuana legalization game. If it passes, it could mean a faster route to decriminalizing pot for the rest of the nation.
It's going to be a close vote, though. Salon reports that supporters of the measure beat opponents by just 1 percent, 44 to 43, in its most recent poll on Nov. 2. If the law passes, Ohioans over age 21 could purchase up to an ounce of pot at a time and could also grow up to eight ounces at home. As for the medicinal users, the proposal states "anyone with a certified debilitating medical condition could use medicinal marijuana."
For years, groups supporting medicinal marijuana lacked the money and resources to get a vote on the ballot. Now, they've succeeded by raising enough money and obtaining the necessary signatures, which coincides with a victory for similar groups seeking full recreational use.
You may be asking, what's the point of voting on both medicinal and recreational marijuana at the same time? Couldn't Ohio simply try to pass recreational weed use and allow sick people to acquire the drug that way? Well, there is sometimes a slight chemical difference between recreational and medicinal marijuana. The latter tends to be less intense and sometimes contains a chemical called cannabidiol that is less mind-altering, according to LeafScience.com. But it is logical to assume that some Ohioans who seek the drug for medical reasons will bypass a doctor's approval, avoid paying the copay, and go straight to a supplier if the law is passed. For this reason, after recreational use passed in Colorado, for example, sales of medicinal marijuana dropped, The Hill reports.
Currently, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., now offer legal medicinal marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Washington D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana. For legal and economic reasons, legalization of medicinal marijuana has been a traditional pathway to complete legalization — who doesn't know a Californian with a medical card obtained for their "headaches"? But Ohio could set a new precedent on Tuesday if both measures pass.
USA Today reports the next states that could legalize recreational marijuana are Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, and California, among others. This is based on a number of factors, including the states' records of reducing penalties against possession, minimizing drug sentences, and the revenue those states stand to gain if pot is legalized. All these states currently allow medical use.
In case you're undecided, the measure has a number of famous proponents who'd like to encourage your vote, including a certain former boy bander and ex-reality star.
If you're an Ohio-based marijuana lover, listen to Nick Lachey and vote yes on this historic legislation.