After legal marijuana voted down, several paths forward remain

youngstown ohio legal marijuana
Both Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni, left, and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene see potential for legalizing medical marijuana.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As supporters of the now-failed State Issue 3 were dropping hints last night that voters have not seen the last of them, one local lawmaker believes there were lessons to be learned.

“What they went for in Issue 3, in my opinion, was everything,” Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni said. “And so maybe they scale it back, I’m not sure, but the money is there.”

So much so, Schiavoni says it is time now for the General Assembly to deal with the issue itself, once and for all, or else face continuing efforts to change the state’s Constitution, much like those supporting legalized gambling did.

Schiavoni said while voters proved they are not in favor of a monopoly running the growing and selling of pot, there is still what he believes to be significant support for medicinal marijuana.

“That’s what people are interested in seeing. If you can use marijuana in order to improve quality of life for people that are sick or have medical problems, people think that’s a good idea,” Schiavoni said.

Even those who actively campaigned locally against Issue 3 admit that might be the best course to take.

“I certainly know that I’m OK with certain aspects of medical marijuana, if it’s strict,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said.

Still, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who predicts medicinal marijuana will one day be legalized, was quick to call Issue 3’s defeat a landslide victory for opponents that should send a message to supporters who raised more than $25 million.

“(They) thought that they could buy their way, not only onto the ballot, but they could buy their way into the Ohio Constitution,” DeWine said.

For now, Schiavoni said his staff is already working on new marijuana legislation, hoping to avoid another statewide amendment issue.

Republicans have also been in talks to create marijuana legislation.

Ohio House speaker Cliff Rosenberger said lawmakers are now mapping out a process to legalize marijuana, saying it is something that both Republicans and Democrats agree on.

“People around the state clearly have talked about the fact that medical marijuana is something they’d like to see a conversation increase about, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Some state lawmakers said if they do not take action on the marijuana issue, then voters will continue to see groups like Responsible Ohio try to legalize pot.

Responsible Ohio, the group behind Issue 3, stated that it has already begun a new campaign. The proposal rejected by voters on Tuesday could be followed in 2016 by a more conventional legalization plan, one that doesn’t give exclusive growing rights to private investors.

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