The Ohio marijuana legalization effort is back in the news again, with activists just 679 signatures short of putting their initiative on the November ballot.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA), which had previously failed to get an adult-use market on last year’s ballot, turned in more than 220,000 signatures earlier this month.
But the secretary of state’s office said in a letter to the campaign that only 123,367 were verified, several hundred short of the 124,046 signature requirement for ballot measures.
Ohio Marijuana Legalization Effort Has Second Chance At Signatures
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) is trying once again to put an adult-use cannabis market on the November ballot. This time, they have turned in more than 220,000 signatures to the Ohio secretary of state—but only 123,367 were verified as valid, 679 short of the 124,046 signature requirement for ballot measures.
Fortunately, the campaign met a separate county threshold—that rule mandates that petitions for ballot measures must have signatures equaling at least 1.5 percent of the vote in the last State Governer election in a minimum of 44 counties. The cannabis campaign met that threshold in 49 counties, giving them 10 additional days to make up the difference and qualify for the ballot.
What is in the Bill?
The bill proposed by the CTRMLA would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and permit home cultivation of up to four plants. It also includes provisions for licensing, regulation, taxation, and local control.
Under the measure, cannabis retailers would pay a 10 percent tax on sales in addition to other excise taxes. Revenue generated from the sales tax would be used to fund various state programs, such as public health initiatives and other social services. Local governments may also impose taxes on cannabis businesses that would be used for specified community purposes.
The initiative also includes provisions aimed at reversing the harms of the War on Drugs, including expungement of criminal records for those previously convicted of marijuana-related offenses. It further provides resources for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, such as job training programs and equitable access to capital.
Failed Attempt to Get It on the Ballot Last Year
The CTRMLA’s effort to put an adult-use cannabis market on the November ballot was unsuccessful last year due to procedural complications. The campaign had collected enough signatures for the measure to appear on the 2022 ballot, but procedural roadblocks prevented them from doing so.
The Ohio General Assembly had previously passed legislation that required the state to retransmit initiatives to the legislature at the start of every session, meaning that all petitions and signatures collected would need to be resubmitted for consideration. The campaign challenged this process in court but was unsuccessful before the Supreme Court of Ohio.
Fortunately, however, a settlement between the state and the campaign allowed them to bypass this process for this year’s ballot measure. This agreement meant that the CTRMLA could immediately resubmit their petition, without having to collect signatures again
Falling Behind Neighboring States
Ohio is falling behind its neighboring states in terms of marijuana legalization efforts: Oklahoma voters rejected recreational marijuana initiatives in March, while Michigan and Illinois have both legalized recreational marijuana in the past two years. With Ohio lagging behind its neighbors, the effect of these delays is magnified.
The legalization of cannabis has been credited with a range of economic benefits, from creating jobs to generating tax revenue for state coffers. If Ohio does not move quickly to legalize adult-use marijuana, the state risks missing out on these potential gains.
Activists are just 679 signatures short of getting their initiative on the ballot, but they only have 10 days to make up the difference. It’s clear that if Ohio does not legalize recreational cannabis soon, the state risks missing out on potential economic benefits and falling further behind its neighbors. It’s time for Ohio to get serious about cannabis reform and take action now.
Now is the time for Ohioans to come together and make their voices heard in support of marijuana legalization. Residents should urge their state legislators to take action and pass this initiative before the November ballot. With enough support, Ohio can finally join its neighbors in legalizing adult-use cannabis and experiencing all of the potential benefits that come with it.
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