Buddie, limiting grow sites were mistakes in pot campaign, leader says

Buddie, the superhero marijuana mascot, was a mistake, according to the man in charge of the effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio this year.

Another big mistake was picking 10 sites controlled by the campaign backers as the only legal places to grow marijuana.

In an open letter published Wednesday, ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James acknowledged these mistakes but pledged to come back with a new plan to legalize marijuana that voters will find acceptable in 2016.

State Issue 3, the ResponsibleOhio plan, was defeated in a stunning landslide 65 percent to 35 percent on Nov. 3. It was opposed by business, health, civic and political leaders as well as pro-pot advocates.

James said in the open letter that, “Rather than finger point and complain, we accept responsibility for our mistakes and have committed ourselves to building greater awareness and consensus. That’s because while we quite publicly stumbled and fell, in picking ourselves up, we remained fully aware that Ohio continues a failed marijuana prohibition that a majority of Ohioans wish to end.”

Polls show that 80- to 90-percent of Ohio voters support allowing patients to use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it and just over half say they support allowing adults to possess and use small amounts of marijuana. Twenty-three states have medical marijuana programs, including four states and the District of Columbia which also allow recreational use.

James said he is seeking input on how to craft the next proposal. “We want to bring people together from all regions, backgrounds, parties and affiliations to have a respectful and thoughtful conversation. This includes speaking with pro-marijuana advocates, as well as listening to and working with the business, civic, faith, health and mental health and addiction service communities to better understand and address their concerns.”

Meanwhile, Ohio lawmakers signaled that they are open to crafting a limited medical marijuana program and other groups are seeking to put their marijuana legalization proposals before voters in November 2016.

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