Watch previous reporting on the marijuana advocate coalition’s signature-gathering process above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio voters are one day from deciding whether they want to make it harder to amend the state constitution, the question laid out in the sole issue on the August election ballot.
The outcome of the vote on Issue 1 could change the prospect for future ballot issue proposals on numerous issues, such as changing the state’s minimum wage and enshrining abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution — the second of which Ohioans are slated to vote on in November.
But of the two proposed ballot measures that could appear in front of voters in the state’s next election, on Nov. 7, one will be unaffected by Tuesday: whether Ohioans legalize recreational marijuana.
Initiated constitutional amendment vs. statute
Under Ohio law, three methods exist to get an issue on ballots across the state: an initiated constitutional amendment, an initiated statute, and a referendum, according to the state attorney general’s office. A referendum overturns an existing law, while both initiated constitutional amendments and statutes either create or change one.
Initiated constitutional amendments and initiated statutes differ in what set of Ohio laws they’re adding to — naturally, constitutional amendments create language for the state constitution, while initiated statutes deal with the Ohio Revised Code.
Issue 1 would make it more difficult to get constitutional amendments on the ballot by changing the signature requirements, and most notably, raising the requirement for passage of the proposals that make it onto the ballot to 60% of the vote.
The recreational marijuana proposal is an initiated statute, unlike the abortion rights proposal. Even if Issue 1 passes, the question in front of voters regarding recreational marijuana would only need 50% plus one of the vote to pass, rather than the 60% the abortion rights proposal would need.
Fifty-nine percent of likely voters, responding to a recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll, said they would vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.
Will recreational marijuana make the ballot this November?
It’s too soon to say for sure.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose informed the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol about two weeks ago that it was 679 signatures short of making the ballot. That same day, LaRose confirmed Ohioans would vote on the abortion rights constitutional amendment in the fall.
Initially, the coalition submitted 222,198 signatures. At least 124,046 of those had to be verified by Ohio county’s boards of elections, which the coalition was just shy of — so under Ohio law, it had 10 days to collect additional names.
On Thursday, the coalition said it submitted more than 6,500 additional signatures.
From there, county boards of elections are given eight days to verify those signatures, and then LaRose will officially certify them, which will determine whether the coalition met the benchmark to get the proposal on the ballot — likely coming down sometime next week.