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Ohio Marijuana Legalization Vote Delayed Until 2023

Ohio officials agreed to accept the 140,000 signatures the coalition already collected instead of making them start over


Ohioans won’t get to vote on legalizing marijuana in Ohio on the November 2022 ballot. But the group pushing for the measure will try again in 2023, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Members of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had filed a lawsuit accusing GOP lawmakers of trying to delay the ballot question until 2023.

The group earlier submitted voter signatures to place its adult-use Cannabis legalization proposal before the Legislature. Ohio officials have agreed to accept the more than 140,000 signatures the coalition already collected, reports Cleveland.com. Lawmakers did this instead of potentially making activists start over from scratch.

“This guarantees the validity of the signatures we’ve already gathered, and we’ve got a much clearer path if we have to get to the ballot next year,” said Tom Haren, spokesman for the coalition.

2.5 Ounces, 10% Tax, And You Can Grow Your Own

The measure would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and to grow their own at home.

The measure taxes Cannabis products at 10%. That tax revenue goes toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity/jobs program.

The group collected signatures to ask Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature to consider its proposal before heading to the ballot box. But the disagreement was over when those signatures were approved, and when lawmakers would have to consider the measure,.

Settlement Preserves Original Signatures

An agreement now puts off any legalization vote until at least next year. The settlement is between backers of the proposed law, state legislative leaders, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“The most important thing for us was preserving an opportunity for Ohio voters to decide this issue,” said Tom Haren. Haren, a Cleveland attorney, serves as spokesman for the group Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, reports The Toledo Blade.

“We are delighted to have reached this settlement, which has preserved our initial signatures, providing the General Assembly with a second opportunity to consider the proposed statute, and established a clear path to ballot access in 2023,” he said.

“To be certain: we aren’t going anywhere and are undeterred in our goal to legalize cannabis for all adults in Ohio,” Haren said.

Ohio GOP Opposes Legalization; Republican Gov. DeWine Hates De Weed

Meanwhile, a pair of Ohio Democratic lawmakers recently filed a bill to legalize marijuana that directly mirrors the proposed initiative that activists are pursuing.

But that bill almost certainly won’t advance in the GOP-dominated Ohio Legislature. Republican legislative leaders oppose the proposal, and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine had said he opposes legalizing marijuana.

Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D) are sponsoring the legislation, which is virtually identical to the citizen initiative. The lawmakers announced the plan on the unofficial cannabis holiday, 4/20.

Legalization On The Ballot Energizes Liberals and Libertarians

The delay in Ohio’s legalization effort could have implications for the November election for governor, U.S. Senate and other races.

Had it been on the ballot, Cannabis legalization had the potential to catalyze voters supporting and opposing legalization. That influences the kinds of voters who show up at the polls. And it influences the issues candidates would talk about.

Backers of legal weed typically have leaned liberal or libertarian. But lately, the issue gets broader support across the political spectrum.

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