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Ohio Legalization Has The Signatures; Going Before Legislature

Ohio activists have the signatures to place an adult-use marijuana legalization bill before state lawmakers

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Ohio legalization activists have the signatures to place an adult-use marijuana measure before the Legislature, the Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed.

Advocates with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had initially turned in over 200,000 signatures in December. But they fell more than 13,000 signatures short of the threshold to send the measure before lawmakers, reports NORML.

Lawmakers now have four months to either enact the proposal as written, amend it, or ignore it. If lawmakers decide in favor of either of the latter two options, advocates can elect to gather additional signatures to place the measure before voters on the November ballot.

Initiated Statute Process

If lawmakers can’t or won’t pass a proposed bill, adult-use Cannabis in Ohio could be a matter for the people to decide, reports the Ohio Capitol Journal.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Friday that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted enough valid signatures to put in motion an “initiated statute” process.

The coalition gathered 136,729 valid signatures spanning all Ohio’s 88 counties, according to LaRose. Those signatures drop the coalition’s proposed bill squarely into the Ohio General Assembly’s lap.

Pass As Is, Amend, Or Ignore

Lawmakers now get four months to pass the bill as is, amend it, or ignore it. If they go with either of the latter two options, the coalition can either accept the Legislature’s response or gather another roughly 133,000 signatures. That would put the question of Cannabis legalization on the general election ballot.

The proposal allows adult possession of up to 2.5 ounces of Cannabis or 15 grams of marijuana concentrate. Adult Ohioans could purchase Cannabis at retail locations or grow two plants at home (up to four if there are two or more adults living in the household). Marijuana products would be taxed at 10%.

Currently, Ohio allows sale of medical marijuana to patients with certain conditions. That became legal after a similar signature-gathering effort in 2016 for a constitutional amendment. Then-Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 523 into law.

Two Legalization Bills Already Introduced

At least two Ohio legalization bills have been introduced.

One is from House Democrats and another, more timid effort from House Republicans. Neither has received even the courtesy of an introductory hearing.

However, an initiated statute process can complicated things for lawmakers. Putting Cannabis on the ballot can deliver a new class of voters to the polls and apply pressure to the Legislature.

DeWine Hates De Weed

None of that matters one whit to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

He’s solidly against legalization, and voiced his opposition in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch.

“No, I think that’s a mistake,” DeWine brayed. ”I think you change the culture and you send a signal to kids…If it’s legal, every kid, the message is it’s okay.”

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