Ohio Advocates Submit Additional Signatures for Cannabis Proposal

Activists in Ohio last week submitted nearly 30,000 additional signatures as part of an effort to get a marijuana legalization proposal before state lawmakers.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the group known as the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol “turned in another 29,918 signatures to Secretary of State Frank LaRose” on Thursday “after falling short earlier this month.”

The coalition submitted a total of 206,943 signatures late last month as part of a petition campaign for the legalization proposal to be brought to the legislature. 

If the proposal were to be enacted, Ohioans ages 21 and older could legally buy and possess as many as 2.5 ounces of pot. The activists must obtain 132,887 signatures from Ohio voters spanning a minimum of 44 counties in order for the proposal to be considered by lawmakers. Then, lawmakers have a maximum of four months to act on the bill.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol suffered a setback earlier this month when LaRose’s office said that only 119,825 of the more than 200,000 signatures were valid—well under the threshold.

Now, with almost 30,000 additional signatures submitted, the coalition will hope that the legalization measure will finally make it to the state house in Columbus.

According to the Dispatch, if legislators “don’t pass the bill or pass an amended version” within the four-month time frame, “supporters can collect another 132,887 valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.”

In addition to permitting eligible adults to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, the new proposal would also allow for up to “15 grams of concentrates,” along with “up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults,” according to the Dispatch.

The newspaper reported that, under the proposal, cannabis products “would be taxed at 10 percent, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries, and a social equity and jobs program.”

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol launched its campaign in earnest in July.

“We are proposing to regulate marijuana for adult use, just like we do for alcohol. Our proposal fixes a broken system while ensuring local control, keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and benefiting everyone,” coalition Spokesman Tom Haren said in a press release at the time of the campaign launch.

“Ohioans want this,” he added. “They see marijuana legalization as inevitable. They want our leaders to seize the opportunity and take control of our future. Marijuana legalization is an issue whose time has come in Ohio. Nineteen states have gone before Ohio and we crafted legislation based on the best practices learned by those that went before us.”

But in the announcement, Haren noted that lawmakers did not have to wait for the petitions to be verified, saying the group is “ready to work with the General Assembly on meaningful reform right now, and it’s our sincere hope that we’ll collaborate on a sensible solution.”

While recreational cannabis isn’t yet legal in the Buckeye State, Ohio has had a medical cannabis program since 2016. Last month, state lawmakers passed a bill that would amount to some of the biggest changes to the program since it launched. 

Most notably, the bill would permit licensed physicians to “recommend marijuana for treatment for any condition if the physician, in the physician’s sole discretion and medical opinion, finds either of the following”: “that the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana” and “that the patient may otherwise reasonably be expected to benefit from medical marijuana.”

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