Ohio Marijuana Legalization Measure To Be Filed For November Ballot This Week
Marijuana reform advocates in Ohio are working to put a marijuana legalization measure before voters in November.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess and purchase up to an ounce of cannabis from licensed retailers. Individuals could also cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
Existing medical marijuana dispensaries would have licensing priorities to start selling products for recreational purposes, according to a copy of an initiative petition obtained by The Cincinnati Enquirer. After that point, state regulators would be able to approve additional licenses.
Attorney Tom Haren, who is working with the campaign, said that they are not currently disclosing who is supporting the effort.
He told Marijuana Moment they will have more information after filing a petition with the state attorney general’s office “later this week.”
The campaign faces some steep challenges if they hope to make the ballot. In order to qualify, they must collect about 443,000 valid signatures from registered voters by July 1. Considering how late in the game this initiative is launching, and how large of a state Ohio is, signature gathering will likely require extensive funding.
“The people of Ohio are ready to approve a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “However, a 2020 campaign will require considerable resources.”
The Ohio Medical Cannabis Cultivators Association, which represents many of the state’s currently licensed businesses, told the Enquirer that they are not currently supporting the measure because the group “is entirely focused on bettering the medical program for patients.”
When a legalization measure appeared on Ohio’s ballot in 2015, it was soundly defeated by voters. However, that initiative was opposed by many traditional allies of reform because of concerns that its language granted control over legal cultivation to the very donors who paid to put it on the ballot.
The following year, state lawmakers legalized medical cannabis. Sales under that program launched last year.
Activists across the country are working to put marijuana reform before voters in November.
A marijuana legalization initiative qualified for South Dakota’s ballot in December, and a separate medical cannabis measure will also go before that state’s voters this year.
Mississippi activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana legalization initiative for the ballot.
New Jersey’s legislature approved a resolution in December that will put the question of full marijuana legalization to voters.
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This story was updated to include a comment from the Marijuana Policy Project.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.