Cannabis reform activists in Ohio report they have submitted the required number of verified signatures to the secretary of state’s office to compel lawmakers to consider a recreational marijuana legalization proposal.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) filed a petition with 206,943 signatures, much more than the 132,887 signatures that are required from registered voters to put a statutory initiative before lawmakers.
The group achieved this total in just four months.
The proposal in question would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults, 15 grams of cannabis concentrates, and would allow individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use, at a maximum of 12 plants per household.
Should enough signatures be verified by country officials, Ohio’s legislature would then have four months to either adopt, reject or amend the measure. If lawmakers reject the proposal, CTRMLA would then have to gather another 132,887 signatures in order to qualify the measure for next year’s ballot where voters could have their say.
“Eighteen states have already legalized cannabis for adult use, including our neighbor to the north,” said CTRMLA spokesman Tom Haren in a press release. “Ohio is behind the curve on this issue and can’t afford continued inaction.”
“The success of our petition drive shows just how eager Ohioans are to end prohibition and legalize the adult use of marijuana,” Haren said. “We look forward to receiving the results of the Secretary of State’s review, and are eager to begin working with legislators on this important issue.”
CTRMLA’s proposal includes a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana sales. This revenue would be split among various social equity and employment initiatives (36 percent), localities that permit marijuana businesses to operate in their jurisdiction (36 percent), and education and substance misuse treatment programs (25 percent), with the remaining 3 percent earmarked to cover the costs of implementing a legal cannabis market.
The measure would establish a state Division of Cannabis Control, which would fall under the direction of the Department of Commerce. The agency would be given responsibility to “license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed.”
Currently operating medical marijuana businesses would have initial priority for adult-use marijuana retail licenses, with regulators required to issue the first licenses within nine months of the measure passing into law.
For the first two years, the Division of Cannabis Control would issue 40 cultivator and 50 retailer licenses “with a preference to applications who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.”
CTRMLA’s proposal doesn’t contain explicit language regarding expungements for prior cannabis convictions, but it does include a provision requiring regulators to study and fund such criminal justice reform measures.
Meanwhile, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are also working on proposals to reform Ohio’s marijuana laws.
Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D) introduced the first marijuana legalization bill in Ohio’s legislative history at the start of the past session, while Reps. Jamie Callender (R) and Ron Ferguson (R) filed a measure of their own last month.