A new group called Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is bidding to gain enough signatures to put a cannabis legalization measure on the Ohio ballot in November.
The measure would allow anyone aged 21 and above to buy, possess, and cultivate cannabis for personal use. Adults would be permitted to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and they could grow up to six plants at home.
It would also task the Ohio Department of Commerce with licensing and regulating dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing sites, and processing plants. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries would be permitted to start selling adult-use cannabis from July 1, 2021.
The campaign group needs to gather 442,958 signatures in order to place the measure on the November ballot. It would then become a constitutional amendment if it garnered enough support when Ohioans go to the polls to vote in November.
The proposed measure does not specify the level of tax that would be imposed on sales. However, it stipulates that at least a quarter of tax revenue must be used to expunge previous convictions for cannabis possession, and promote criminal justice, equity, and diversity in the new industry.
At least half of the revenue would be diverted into the local government fund, which is used to bolster public services. At least 10% would go to the local areas that house the dispensaries.
Tom Haren, a general consul based in northern Ohio, is the spokesman for the new group, which represents a coalition of legalization advocates. He has previously represented medical marijuana companies in the state.
A previous ballot initiative on legalization was voted down by Ohio residents in 2015. However, medical marijuana was legalized in 2016 and the state’s program is now a year old.
That could act as a Trojan horse for recreational cannabis. Advocates feel the time is right to try again. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have all legalized recreational cannabis use.
Nine of those 11 states legalized adult-use marijuana via a ballot initiative. Haren believes that the stigma attached to marijuana use has decreased significantly due to positive results of legalization in states like Colorado, Washington and California.
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