Photo courtesy of Carolyn Kaster for AP News.
Lucy Waskiewicz | News Editor
Ohioans have voted to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution and legalize recreational marijuana.
Nearly eight million total votes were cast in elections for Issues 1 and 2 on Nov. 7, 2023. Issue 1 proposed an amendment to protect abortion access and reproductive health care in the state constitution. Issue 2 proposed a measure to legalize the possession, purchase and use of recreational marijuana by adults over 21.
Issue 1 passed by a margin of 56.6% to 43.4%, making Ohio the seventh state to preserve abortion rights after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022.
Issue 2 passed by a margin of 57% to 43%. It makes Ohio the 24th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Ohio garnered national attention as the only state voting on abortion rights in its constitution this year. In August, voters rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have raised the requirement to pass constitutional amendments from a simple majority (over 50%) to 60%, which was viewed by abortion rights activists as an attempt to hinder the Nov. 7 vote.
The Nov. 7 results are a major win for abortion rights activists.
Erica Wilson-Domer and Lauren Blauvelt, respective President and Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, released a statement after the election.
“This win marks a new beginning for Ohio, where individuals now have the right to make their own reproductive decisions without government interference,” the statement said. “Ohioans made it clear once and for all that abortion rights are a constitutional right.”
The White House also released a statement from President Biden commending voters.
“Tonight, Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms – and democracy won,” Biden said. “Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the health care that their patients need and that they are trained to provide.”
The Issue 1 amendment establishes the rights of Ohio individuals to make and carry out decisions regarding their reproductive health. This includes contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.
The Issue 2 measure allows Ohioans 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. The 10% tax will be imposed on purchases to be spent on administrative costs and efforts including addiction treatment and social equity and jobs programs supporting the industry.
“Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue,” said Tom Haren, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide. Ohioans are being extremely clear on the future they want for our state: adult-use marijuana legal and regulated.”
In the University of Dayton’s Student News Digest email on Nov. 8, UD reminded students that the use and possession of marijuana are still prohibited on campus.
“The University’s drug policies and federal law still apply after the passage of Issue 2 legalizing adult use of recreational marijuana in Ohio, effective Dec. 7,” the email stated. “For students, violations of UD’s code of conduct and drug policy involving possession or use of marijuana on campus can result in disciplinary probation, suspension or even expulsion.”