Pot legalization effort in US heartland takes many paths

Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, poses for photos with passing college students at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Buddie, the mascot for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio, poses for photos with passing college students at Miami University, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the Midwest to take marijuana use and sales from illegal to legal for both personal and medical use in a single vote. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A ballot proposal before Ohio voters this fall would be the first in the nation to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in a single vote.

It’s funded by private investors, mounted in an off-year election cycle, and framed around numerous messages delivered to varying parts of the state.

ResponsibleOhio director Ian James says the unusual approach is designed to win votes with the complex, politically divided electorate of battleground Ohio. Combining medical and recreational pot attracts different voting groups. Running in an off year is more affordable.

Critics say the campaign’s lack of a philosophical focal point shows it’s about returns for private investors, not sound public policy. They say ResponsibleOhio picked 2015 to get ahead of an anticipated onslaught of legalization proposals during the 2016 presidential election.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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