The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State Monday, an important step in its process to get state lawmakers to review potential legislation seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
The proposed legislation would legalize and regulate the ”cultivation, manufacture, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products” for people 21 and older. It would also allow Ohioans to grow marijuana plants in their own homes, with a limit of six plants per person and 12 per household.
The Coalition said it submitted 206,943 signatures to Secretary of State Frank LaRose and is waiting for county Boards of Elections to verify those signatures. It needs at least 132,877 valid signatures and must ensure it has met a statutory threshold in 44 counties for the legislation to go before the Ohio General Assembly.
“It’s really the first step to get our proposal in front of the General Assembly,” said Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “The General Assembly will have four months to enact our proposal, which we are confident will happen. We think it’s the right thing to do. It’s something that we are laser-focused on.”
If the General Assembly does not pass the bill, organizers will have to collect another 132,877 to make sure the statute can be on next November’s ballot, allowing voters to decide whether it will become law.
“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.”
This is now at least the third effort this year to try and get lawmakers in Columbus on board with legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults in Ohio.
Two Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives came up with such a bill over the summer. On the other side of the aisle, two Republican members of the House put forward their own proposal for a marijuana legalization bill in October.
“That’s never happened in the history of the state,” Haren said. “We think that it shows that this is an issue that is gaining traction.”
MedicateOH, an organization that educates patients about medical marijuana in Ohio and advocates for the plant’s use, has been closely monitoring the various legalization efforts.
“There’s a lot going on in Ohio legislation right now,” said Gabrielle Dion Visca, MedicateOH’s founder and publisher. “The devil will be really in the details in terms of what support goes where and how that really works out.”
She said legalizing marijuana for adult use would likely be a big boost for small businesses currently operating in the legal world of CBD and hemp-based products.
“What a program like this would do is level the playing field to an extent and allow some of the little guys here in Ohio to have a chance to run their own shops,” Dion Visca said.
A proposed 10% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products under this law would help fund social equity and jobs programs, addiction treatment efforts and support communities where adult-use marijuana dispensaries are allowed to operate.