Election Recap: Ohio Voters Pass Issues 1 & 2
After weeks of early in-person and absentee mail-in voting, the 2023 general election culminated in this week’s Election Day, with many Ohioans heading out to the polls to cast their votes on Tuesday. Numerous local races all over the state were decided by Ohio voters, and in the evening after the polls closed, all eyes were on the incoming results, particularly concerning statewide ballot issues 1 and 2.
Ultimately, Issue 1, concerning the addition of abortion rights to the state constitution, prevailed, with unofficial results showing a margin of around 56 to 44%. Ohio is the 7th state to vote on and pass an abortion rights proposal since the reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, following similar ballot issues passing in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Vermont, and Kansas.
Issue 1 as passed makes it a constitutional right for every Ohioan to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including regarding abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, and care related to miscarriage. Additionally, it permits the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability, except in cases in which the pregnant patient’s life or health is in danger.
Since the projection of Issue 1’s victory; however, several elected officials and opposition leaders have made statements to suggest that they intend to continue to fight on this front in the coming months. In the meantime, it remains to be seen how those efforts will coalesce and what steps will be taken on the matter.
On Tuesday night, Issue 2 was also reported as approved by Ohioans at the polls. Issue 2 legalizes the use of recreational marijuana in our state, but exactly how the program will take effect is somewhat uncertain. Passage of this ballot measure comes after a failed effort in 2015, which was rejected by Ohio voters 65 to 35%.
Unofficial results show that Ohio has become the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana use with more than 56% of the vote in support. The statute is intended to go into effect on December 7, which gives state legislators only 30 days to modify the language. Both the Ohio Senate President, Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) have indicated that modification is likely.
As passed by Ohio voters, the statute would permit individuals 21 years of age or older to grow up to six plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana; however, landlords would be permitted to prohibit growing activity on property.
Issue 2 also contains a 10% adult use tax on top of the existing sale price. Revenue is to be divided:
- 36% to local governments with operating dispensaries
- 36% to a social equity and cannabis jobs fund
- 25% for substance abuse programming
- 3% for the Division of Cannabis Control, newly established under the Ohio Department of Commerce.
We will be watching the legislature for action on this issue in the coming weeks as they make any potential changes to the language of the statute.
Overall, OSMA will continue to monitor the legislative proceedings in the wake of the election on both of these issues, and report back on new developments that may occur as we close out the year and begin 2024. Additionally, we remain committed to advocating for policies moving forward that protect the safety of Ohioans, ensure evidence-based standards of care in medicine, and respect and preserve the physician/patient relationship.
Stay tuned for updates!