Activists in Ohio have turned in an adult-use petition with summary language and an initial 1,000 signatures to the state attorney general – the first step to getting the measure on November ballots, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The petition comes nearly four years after lawmakers legalized medical cannabis but about one in three registered patients still have never bought products through the program.
The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment initiative is backed by a medical cannabis patient, a mother of twins with autism – a condition not covered under the state’s limited program – Pure Ohio Wellness, a licensed cannabis business, and an Akron-based cannabis cultivator.
Tom Haren, an attorney representing supporters, said patients have a hard time participating in the state program which is serving as a catalyst for the petition drive.
“If you’re a patient in Ohio, it’s hard to participate in Ohio’s medical marijuana program. We were promised a program that worked.” – Haren to the Enquirer
Thomas Rosenberger, associate director for the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association, said the organization is not supporting the measure “at this time” as they remain focused on the medical program.
The amendment would set the purchase and possession limit at 1 ounce and 8 grams of concentrates, along with home grow limits of three mature and three immature plants. It would not change the state laws against driving under the influence of cannabis or employers’ rights to prohibit cannabis use by employees. The medical cannabis program would remain in place.
If approved, the state’s medical cannabis operators would have the first crack at recreational cannabis licenses, which would be capped until 2026. The amendment would allow about 200 retail licenses and 1.5 million square feet of cultivation space for all licensees, which would be regulated by the Department of Commerce. The measure also allows municipalities to ban recreational cannabis businesses.
While the amendment does not set a tax rate, it dictates that 25 percent of cannabis-derived tax revenues would be sent to a special fund for a Commission on Expungement, Criminal Justice, Community Investment, and Cannabis Industry Equity and Diversity; another 50 percent would be allocated to the state’s Local Government Fund; while at least 10 percent would be sent to municipalities where the retail sales occurred, proportional to the number of sales, the report says.
The measure’s summary language must be approved by the attorney general within 10 days to ensure it’s “fair and truthful.” If approved, it would next move to a bipartisan panel led by the Secretary of State which would determine whether it is one or more ballot issues. If it passes both of tests, supporters would need to collect 442,958 valid signatures, including a certain percentage in 44 of the state’s 88 counties, by July 1.