Ohioans might get another opportunity to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana this year.
A new coalition is preparing a ballot initiative that would “allow anyone 21 and older to buy, consume and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants,” The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Monday after obtaining a photo of the ballot petition.
The outlet reported that Tom Haren, an attorney who represents several medical marijuana businesses, and Mike Hartley, a Republican consultant, are working with supporters on the initiative, but both declined to elaborate at this time on who is supporting and funding the effort.
“We will have more to share when we file petitions with the Attorney General’s Office this week,” Haren said in a statement.
Ohioans rejected a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in 2015 in a vote of 64 to 36 percent. State lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and sales began last year. The Ohio Medical Cannabis Cultivators Association, which represents 15 Ohio businesses, told The Enquirer that it won’t support the new ballot initiative and is instead focusing on “bettering the medical program for patients.”
If the ballot language is approved by the Attorney General’s Office, then supporters will have until July 1 to collect 442,958 signatures.
National legalization groups told Politico in January that they weren’t going to target Ohio this year because the costs are too high in swing states during a presidential election cycle.
“The cost of an Ohio campaign could cover the costs of [four to six] other ballot initiative campaigns. Our first goal is to pass laws in as many places as we can,” said Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults while 26 states, including Ohio, have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A number of other constitutional amendments could be on the Ohio ballot this year, including proposals to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour, automatic voter registration at the BMV, and a modification of the state’s term limits law.
– – –