Ohio’s attorney general has blocked a push to legalize marijuana in the state, though advocates say they plan to change and resubmit their petition.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWineAttorney General Mike DeWine rejected the petition in late February, saying that there were problems with the proposed ballot summary. For one, DeWine said, weed proponents failed to explain that the law would allow adults over 21 to share small amounts of pot.

Responsible Ohio submitted the petition earlier this year, seeking to legalize cannabis and regulate it like alcohol. The program would allow 10 licensed marijuana grow sites to produce weed for medical and recreational use.

The state would collect taxes at each stage of the marijuana supply chain (growing, processing and selling), with the revenue going to local governments. As Colorado and Washington State have proved, this kind of tax can generate millions of much-needed tax dollars.

Petition failed to address important issues

DeWine said the petition failed to disclose that it would allow adults to give small amounts of weed to each other. The petition also didn’t “accurately reflect the manner in which proposed taxes would be distributed,” he said.

And DeWine also said that proponents had selected a grow site that would violate the terms of the proposed constitutional amendment. The law would bar any marijuana business located within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, public school, church, public library, or childcare center.

The attorney general’s decision wasn’t entirely unexpected by activists. ResponsibleOhio leaders had already said they planned to change the proposed amendment and submit it again by early March.

300,000 signatures required for ballot initiation process

legalization-of-marijuana.jpgAt that point, the group will turn in new summary language and signatures needed to clear the initial phase in the ballot initiative process. If they succeed, they would then have to gather more than 300,000 signatures from registered voters across Ohio.

The final deadline for signatures is July 1. The proposal would appear on the ballot in November.

The changes would make it clear that adults over 21 could grow as many as four flowering cannabis plants for personal use. Home growers would be required to obtain licenses from the state.

It’s not clear how likely it is that the question will make it on the ballot, let alone whether voters would approve it. Marijuana is already decriminalized in Ohio, though the state doesn’t yet allow medical weed.

But conservative Republicans, most of who have little interest in reforming pot laws, dominate state-level politics. DeWine opposes legalization, as does Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican. Government opposition could make it much more difficult, but not impossible, to get the question on the ballot.

About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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