Ohioans will vote Tuesday on a measure to legalize marijuana with a surprise twist. The ballot issue has several celebrity backers who plan to become part of the marijuana business if it passes.
The ballot measure, called Issue 3, would make it legal for people 21 or older to grow, use or share up to 8 ounces of marijuana for recreational use.
It would also grant exclusive commercial growth rights to 10 landowners who would supply the roughly 1,100 dispensaries across the state. Millions of dollars were donated to support the ballot initiative, along with big-name supporters like NFL player Frostee Rucker, former NBA star Oscar Robertson and fashion designer Nanette Lapore, who're listed on the website of a PAC supporting the measure. The group also cites former 98 Degrees singer-songwriter and reality-TV star Nick Lachey as a supporter, who appears in a commercial for the ballot measure.
If the initiative passes, celebrity-backed corporations are expected to operate the 10 farms and could sell $1.1 billion of pot every year, according to the Marijuana Policies of Ohio Taskforce. The state tax agency estimates the measure would generate between $133 million and $293 million in revenue for the state.
The vote to legalize could be close. A University of Akron poll found that 46 percent of Ohio voters support Issue 3, 46 percent do not support it and 8 percent are undecided.
Opponents have proposed an anti-monopoly initiative, Issue 2, which seeks to block Issue 3 from going forward. Issue 2 doesn't specifically deal with marijuana but would block the state from supporting the kind of monopoly in Issue 3.
Issue 2 has less support than the legalization measure, with 38 percent of voters supportive, according to the same poll. It’s unclear what would happen if voters approve both measures.
If Issue 3 passes, Ohio will become the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana.