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Ohio marijuana activities cleared to collect signatures for 2022 legalization ballot initiative

Written on Sep 2, 2021

A group of Ohio activists have cleared a final hurdle to begin collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State.

After the state attorney general certified the latest version of the reform petition, the Ohio Ballot Board determined that the measure meets single subject requirements, clearing advocates to start signature gathering.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) launched its ballot effort in July. And the recent attorney general certification came after his office rejected summary language of an earlier version.

The new initiative is a statutory proposal. If supporters collect 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters, the legislature will then have four months to adopt the measure, reject it or adopt and amended version. If lawmakers do not pass the proposal, organizers will then need to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the proposal before voters on the ballot in 2022.

Petitioners must first collect an initial batch of signatures that amount to 3% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in order to put the issue to the legislature. Those signatures need to come from at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties.

Further, “for each of those counties, the number must equal at least 1.5% of the vote cast in the last gubernatorial election,” the attorney general’s office said. And the signatures must be submitted no later than 10 days before the start of a legislative session.

Ohio voters rejected a 2015 legalization initiative, and advocates suspended a campaign to place another measure on the 2020 ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. But this round, the campaign is feeling confident that it will prevail once it clears these procedural hurdles.

The proposed law would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum 12 plants per household.

It’s a notable departure from the failed 2015 reform initiative, which faced criticism from advocates because of an oligopolistic model that would’ve granted exclusive control over cannabis production to the very funders who paid to put the measure on the ballot.