Local group wants to put legal recreational pot on 2018 Ohio ballot

CINCINNATI -- The lead investors behind an effort to legalize recreational and medical marijuana in 2015 say they want to head back to Ohio's ballot next year.

Cincinnati investor James Gould and business partner, Ian James of Columbus, say they will pursue an effort to make recreational marijuana legal in Ohio in 2018. The duo led the failed ballot initiative in 2015 -- dubbed Responsible Ohio -- which aimed to legal recreational and medical marijuana but limited the pot growing operations to a handful of investors. 

The pair teamed up again this year for CannAscend, a company they hoped would land a medical marijuana cultivation license through Ohio's newly launched program. But Ohio's medical pot plan has recently has come under fire by several top state officials this week after it was discovered that a contractor hired by the state to review growing applications had a felony drug conviction. 

CannAscend have said they intend to pursue legal actions against the state over what they called a flawed application process. Meanwhile, Gould and James also say they'll collect the signatures needed to give voters the choice in 2018 to make recreational marijuana legal. 

"Just like you can brew beer and own distillery in Ohio - Ohioans should be able to do that with marijuana," said James. "If you believe you can compete in Ohio and provide properly tested and marijuana in well regulated market, then this will be the opportunity for you."  

Gould is holding a press conference on Monday at 11 a.m. in Columbus where he's expected to release more details about the plan.

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