Michigan's GOP gov hopefuls clash: 'What did you do in 2020?'

Legalized pot proposal clears a hurdle for Ohio ballot

Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio — If Ohio voters decide this fall to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, Ohio would become the rare state to leap in a single bound from outlawing marijuana altogether to allowing it for all uses.

The proposal still has a few hurdles to get there, though.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said Wednesday that ResponsibleOhio’s proposal has met the state’s voter signature requirements to get on the Nov. 3 ballot. Organizers initially fell short of the required number but were able to gather an additional 44,185 signatures to meet the minimum — about 306,000.

The Marijuana Legalization Amendment would allow adults 21 or over to purchase marijuana for medicinal or recreational use and to grow four plants for personal use. It sets up a network of 10 authorized growing locations around the state, some that have already attracted private investors, and lays out a regulatory and taxation scheme for cannabis.

The Ohio Ballot Board will still have to approve the language of the proposal before it goes to voters on Election Day.

Last month, Husted named a special investigator to review what he called “significant disparities” in the group’s petitions. He also subpoenaed the campaign’s executive director, Ian James, and various records from his consulting firm. ResponsibleOhio has said it has met a Monday deadline to comply with Husted’s orders.

In a statement Wednesday, James thanked local elections officials for their “Herculean effort” in reviewing the signatures. He said the time for legalized marijuana has come in Ohio.

“Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens,” he said. “By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

But certification of the marijuana amendment will also set up a ballot fight with another issue this fall.

A proposal sent to the ballot by Ohio lawmakers will ask voters to ban monopolies and cartels and takes aim at 10 marijuana-growing sites described in the proposed marijuana amendment. Officials say the anti-monopoly measure is written to trump the marijuana amendment.

Husted has said that under Ohio’s constitution, the top vote-getter prevails when two conflicting ballot issues are approved in the same election. But he also says the anti-monopoly measure is designed to go into effect immediately after its passage and so would ban the growing sites described in the marijuana proposal that would take effect 30 days later.