After a back-and-forth exchange between involved parties, Ohio’s bid to legalise recreational cannabis is back on track following the state’s attorney general’s acceptance of a rewritten petition on August 20th.
The proposal from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had initially been sent back by Ohio AG Dave Yost, citing issues around the language – including lack of distinction over how many plants an individual may possess, as opposed to how many they may cultivate – which Yost deemed misleading.
The proposal was quickly rewritten, and upon review, Yost agreed that the new bill was “a fair and truthful representation of the proposed statute.”
In a news release accompanying the resubmission, coalition spokesman Tom Haren said, “We appreciate the attorney general’s feedback on our initial filing, and have fully addressed the issues flagged in this updated filing.”
Commenting via a letter to the CRMLA, AG Yost said that the office “does not offer an opinion of the enforceability or constitutionality” of the cannabis proposal, which would allow adults over the age of 21 to buy, possess, use, and even grow marijuana for recreational use.
Having now been accepted by the attorney general, the initiative will be passed to the Ohio Ballot Board. They’ll determine whether the bill constitutes one issue before it can qualify for the ballot. Following approval, petitioners must collect a total of 132,887 supporting signatures from registered voters. Or, 3% of the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election – and from at least 44 of the 88 counties in the state of Ohio.
After that, the legislature has four months to adopt or reject the measure or adopt an amended version.
The Ohio Legalisation Petition
If passed, the law would mean good things for all parties with a vested interest. The existing medical marijuana businesses within the state could immediately obtain licence to branch off into recreational trade. As such, many of those medical dispensaries are backing the proposal. The bill expects to create 40 new cultivation licences and 50 adult-use dispensary licences. No other licences would be available within the program’s first two years.
The coalition also has a keen eye on fairness, including a cannabis social equity and jobs program. It would certify applicants based on social and economic disadvantage while encouraging operators to hire and educate specified groups. Additionally seeking to fund judicial and criminal justice reform.
On their website at https://justlikealcohol.com, the coalition outlines its intention to redistribute revenue acquired from the proposed 10% sales taxes as follows:
- Social Equity and Jobs Programs (36%)
- Funding for Dispensary Host Communities (36%)
- Addiction Treatment and Education (25%)
- Regulatory and Administrative Costs (3%)
Individuals over 21 would benefit from the freedom to possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis in any form other than extract. And, up to fifteen grams of extract, while allowing adults to cultivate up to six plants at their primary residence. This would not allow more than twelve plants where two or more adult-use consumers reside at one time.
Promising Signs for Recreational Cannabis in Ohio
Local reform initiatives show early promise across the state. There is hope that the CRMLA’s bill will have enough support to succeed. Twenty-two jurisdictions have already adopted statutes to reduce sanctions for minor possession. This previously included a fine and prison time, to “the lowest penalty allowed by state law.”
The CRMLA’s bill faces competition from a similar proposal submitted by Ohio Lawmakers, which would permit legal possession of up to five ounces. It includes provisions to expunge previous convictions for possession and cultivation.
This bill is just the latest across North America to further cannabis laws. There is currently a cannabis legalisation bill on the table to change marijuana laws at a federal level.
Learn more about the campaign to legalise recreational use in Ohio at https://justlikealcohol.com