Ohio Coalition Forms in Opposition to November Adult-Use Marijuana Ballot Initiative

A coalition of Ohio leaders joined together this week to defeat an attempt by marijuana legalization activists to put an initiative to legalize the purchase and sale of marijuana by Ohio residents aged 21 and older on the ballot in November.

The initial coalition represents respected leaders across children’s health care, business, veterans, and law enforcement institutions. The group includes including Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Ohio Adolescent Health Association, Buckeye Sheriffs Association, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Ohio Veterans First, Veterans Court Watch, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, State Senator Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, Phillips Tube Group CEO Angela Phillips, and Smart Approaches to Marijuana CEO Kevin A. Sabet Ph.D.

According to the group, law enforcement, children’s health care, and business leaders have one mission to protect Ohio workers and families from this November initiative.

“Coming together to say that Ohio has already suffered enough from casual, recreational drug use, and to spare our children, businesses, and communities additional risks and costs, a broad coalition of leaders is launching a comprehensive campaign to defeat a November ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational use and retail sales of marijuana in Ohio,” the coalition says.

The proposed initiative submitted by The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol aims to impose a 10 percent tax on the sale of all cannabis products, permit adults to grow up to six plants per person or 12 per household, and legalize the possession, purchase, and sale of marijuana by Ohio residents aged 21 and older.

The activists needed to gather over 124,046 signatures by July 5th in order to qualify for this November’s ballot. The group submitted 222,198 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office before the deadline; however, the Secretary of State’s office ruled that only 123,367 were valid signatures.

Although the measure fell short, they had 10 additional days to get the few hundred valid signatures needed to put them over the top and refile to get on the November ballot. The coalition turned in 6,545 additional signatures earlier this month to the Secretary of State’s office in an attempt to get them over the top.

Boards of elections have eight days after receiving new petitions to verify signatures. After everything is verified, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose‘s office will verify everything and state whether it meets the requirements to appear on the November ballot.

This is a proposed law, not a change to the constitution. State legislators can amend or abolish laws, including ones that voters enacted, but only a superseding amendment that the general public has adopted can change or repeal constitutional amendments.

The Secretary of State’s Office has yet to announce if the initiative has qualified for the November ballot.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug produced by the Cannabis sativa plant.

Studies conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. They do not know, however, if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.

As previously reported by The Ohio Star Republican officials such as Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Governor Mike DeWine have stated that they oppose the drug’s recreational use and are instead focusing on improving Ohio’s medical marijuana program. The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a 156-member GOP House Caucus agrees saying that Congress should not legalize marijuana due to the dangers caused by the drug.

Marijuana and THC remain illegal at the federal level, even though many states have legalized their use.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that if passed, Ohio would join 21 other states in legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]



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