Many of our readers know about the considerable controversy surrounding ResponsibleOhio’s efforts to pass a marijuana legalization bill in Ohio (Issue 3). As if all that wasn’t enough, RO is inviting even more controversy with their new marijuana mascot, “Buddie.”
RO says Buddie’s purpose is to get college students excited about Issue 3 as part of his “21 and up club.” Critics say Buddie is peddling weed to kids at worse and creating unneeded controversy at best. While I agree Buddie is an unnecessary distraction, the notion that he is directed at kids is ludicrous on a couple of levels. First of all, anyone under 18 can’t vote, making them totally irrelevant when it comes to passing Issue 3. Second, the language of the measure expressly forbids possession and sales to those under 21 years of age.
In the end however, the last thing Issue 3 needs is more controversy. If RO was looking for attention, they certainly have accomplished that mission.
As far as getting college students excited about marijuana legalization, that is definitely important. In an off-year election effort, every vote is going to count even more, and without younger voters Issue 3 is doomed. It’s one thing to agree with legalization, but you also have to get out and vote for it.
But is “Buddie” really the best way to do that? Wouldn’t a tour of college campuses - which RO is also currently doing – be enough to engage students? Social media and other Internet advertising platforms would also be a good idea. Why invite more controversy to an already beleaguered issue?
When all is said and done, ResponsibleOhio will be judged on their success at passing Issue 3. If successful, the investors will make a ton of money and activists will get down to the business of improving the law. If they fail, they've lost $20 million and will be relegated to the ash heap of history.