The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has submitted 222,198 signatures from Ohio voters in all of Ohio’s 88 counties to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, in order to put the issue on the Nov. 7 ballot, according to a Wednesday news release from the coalition.
The group needed about 124,000 total signatures from 44 counties.
“Our issue will authorize the possession and use of marijuana by adults 21 and over and provide a framework to ensure proper regulation and fair taxation,” coalition spokesperson Tom Haren, a Cleveland attorney, is quoted in the release.
“This isn’t ground-breaking. … We’re just trying to get Ohio in line with neighbors like Michigan and Illinois.”
How does it work?
The proposed statute would let Ohioans 21 years and older possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of cannabis extract and keep up to six cannabis plants at home, or up to 12 if there is more than one user living there.
It would also impose a 10% tax on adult-use marijuana sales, revenues from which would go back into Ohio communities, according to the release. The recreational cannabis industry would be regulated by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
Haren told FOX 8 sister station WKBN that adult-use cannabis could generate $400 million per year in new tax revenue.
“We want to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to how the state regulates alcohol consumption,” Haren said. “We’re ready to end prohibition and let Ohioans responsibly use marijuana like people in half the country already do. It’s just common sense.”
The coalition’s 222,000 signatures will be sent to counties for verification, a Secretary of State spokesperson previously told FOX 8 News.
If the coalition’s petitions are certified, it will appear as a statewide issue on the Nov. 7 ballot, needing a simple majority to pass. Recent polling suggests Ohio voters would approve it by a narrow margin, but Haren has cited other polls showing about 60% of Ohio voters are in favor of it.
Joe Caruso, president and CEO of Youngstown-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation provider Compass Family and Community Services, told WKBN he intends to vote “No” on the measure. He also believes cannabis has no medical purpose.
“In fact, it can actually harm people even more because it could induce some psychosis in individuals that have certain psychiatric conditions,” Caruso told WKBN.
The measure is a citizen-initiated state statute, meaning it would not be affected by the upcoming Issue 1 being put to voters in the August special election, despite a pervading misconception.
That issue, if approved, would make it more difficult for voters to put forth and approve amendments to the Ohio Constitution by requiring signatures from all of Ohio’s 88 counties to get them on the ballot — rather than half — and a 60% affirmative vote to pass them, rather than a simple majority.
However, since it is a statute, it’s susceptible to repeal or alterations by state lawmakers.
How else could marijuana become legal in Ohio?
Ohio House Bill 168, called the Ohio Adult Use Act, introduced May 8 by state Reps. Casey Weinstein of Hudson, D-34th, and Jamie Callender of Concord, R-57th, would allow Ohioans who are at least 21 years old to cultivate, purchase and possess cannabis.
“The reality is many, many Ohioans smoke marijuana or use edibles, and I’d like to regulate it, I’d like to tax it and I’d like to sort of bring it out of the shadows in some ways and create a fully robust market here,” Weinstein previously told FOX 8 News. “We are falling behind our neighboring states. It’s really time to step up. The time has come.”
The bill was assigned to the House Finance Committee in late May, but has yet to have a hearing.
Adult-use cannabis has been legalized in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, and 38 states have approved cannabis for medical use, including Ohio.