The Ohio Ballot Board has officially certified the Marijuana Rights and RegulationsAct, giving proponents the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures.
The Ballot Board’s approval of the initiative comes roughly a week after Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the initiative’s language as being “fair and truthful”. Advocates of the measure must now collect 305,591 signatures from registered Ohio voters in order to put it to a vote of the people. If the signatures are collected by July 4 of this year (unlikely), the initiative will be voted on this November. If they are collected prior to July, 2019, it will be placed on the November, 2019 general election ballot.
If placed on either ballot and voted into law, the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for personal use would become legal for those 21 and older, without the state’s medical marijuana law being effected. The intiaitve establishes a system of licensed marijuana retail outlets, allowed to sell marijuana and marijuana products.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has officially certified the ballot language for a proposed initiative that would legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older.
The petition language for the Marijuana Rights and Regulations act was certified as being “fair and truthful” by AG DeWine. This is the first step towards the proposal being put to a vote of the people.
The measure now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will determine if the measure constitutes one, or multiple ballot questions. Once approved by the Board, proponents of the measure will need to collect 305,591 signatures from registered Ohio votes to put initiative on the November, 2019 general election ballot (they have the opportunity to put the measure on this November’s ballot, but it would require the incredibly tall feat of collecting all the signatures by July 4).
While marijuana reform efforts continue at an excruciatingly slow pace in state legislatures — Vermont became the first state to free the weed at the statehouse just last month — the initiative and referendum process continues to serve as a direct popular vote alternative to the crap shoot that is trying to get a pot bill through two houses and signed by a governor.
There are at least six states with a serious shot at legalizing either recreational marijuana or medical marijuana via the initiative process this year. In one state, a medical marijuana initiative has already qualified for the ballot; in another, plentiful signatures have already been handed in for a legalization initiative; in three others, signature gathering campaigns are well underway; while in the last, a legalization initiative hasn’t been officially filed yet, but already has serious financial backing.
By the time we get past election day, we should be looking at a legalization victory in at least one more state and medical marijuana victories damned near anywhere an initiative manages to get on the ballot. In the last election cycle, marijuana reform initiatives won in eight out of nine contests.
Here are the 2018 contenders:
1. Michigan — Legalization
The Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has already completed a petition campaign and handed in more than 365,000 raw signatures in November for its legalization initiative. It hasn’t officially qualified for the ballot yet, but it only needs 250,000 valid voter signatures to do so, meaning it has a rather substantial cushion. If the measure makes the ballot, it should win. There is the little matter of actually campaigning to pass the initiative, which should require a million or two dollars for TV ad buys and other get-out-the-vote efforts, but with the Marijuana Policy Project on board and some deep-pocketed local interests as well, the money should be there. The voters already are there: Polling has shown majority support for legalization for several years now, always trending up, and most recently hitting 58% in a May Marketing Resource Group poll.
2. Missouri — Medical
New Approach Missouri’s Right to Medical Marijuana initiative would legalize the use of medical marijuana for specified medical conditions and create a system of taxed and regulated medical marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sales. The campaign is well into its signature gathering phase and reported this week that it already has 175,000 raw signatures. It only needs 160,000 verified valid voter signatures, but has set a goal of 280,000 raw signatures to provide a comfortable cushion. Signature gathering doesn’t end until May 6. There is no recent state polling on the issue, but medical marijuana typically polls above 80% nationally.
3. New Mexico — Legalization
The Land of Enchantment has a unique path to a popular vote on marijuana legalization: A measure before the legislature, Senate Joint Resolution 4, would, if approved, take the issue directly to the voters in November. New Mexicans would vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize weed, and if they approved it, the legislature would meet next year to promulgate rules and regulations. The measure passed one Senate committee on Friday, but still faces another Senate committee vote, a Senate floor vote, and action in the House, and the clock is ticking. Supporters have only about two weeks to move this bill before the session ends. If it can get before the voters, it could win: A poll last week had support at 61%.
4. Ohio — Legalization
Responsible Ohio tried to legalize marijuana in 2015 via a “pay to play” initiative that would have created a growers’ oligopoly limited to cash-heavy early supporters who financed the entire campaign. Ohio voters didn’t buy that, so some of the players are back again with what they’re calling the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment. It hasn’t been officially filed yet, but would reportedly have a “free market” approach to a system of taxed and regulated cultivation, distribution, and sales, and it would allow for personal cultivation. Organizers say they have $3 million already for signature gathering and campaigning. They will need 305,592 valid voter signatures and they have a goal of July 4 for getting them.
5. Oklahoma — Medical
The Oklahoma medical marijuana initiative, State Question 788, has already qualified for the ballot and will go before the voters during the June 26 primary election. The initiative legalizes the use, cultivation, and distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. A January Sooner poll had support at 62%, a fairly low level of support for medical marijuana, which typically polls above 80% nationwide. But this is Oklahoma.
6. Utah — Medical
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana. It limits the numbers of dispensaries and growers, and patients could only grow their own if they reside more than 100 miles from the nearest dispensary. Patients could not smoke their medicine, but they could vaporize it. The Utah Patients Coalition is currently in the midst of its signature gathering campaign. It needs 113,000 verified voter signatures by April 15, and it has the money in the bank, including $100,000 from the Marijuana Policy Project, to get it done. A series of polls last year had support levels ranging from 69% to 78%.
Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada have all legalized marijuana, and Vermont’s Legislature just approved a bill to join this list. Which state will be #10?
Below is a list (in no particular order) of the top five states we believe are the most likely to legalize marijuana next, becoming the 10th state in the U.S. to do so (which would make 20% of the entire country).
Proponents of legalizing marijuana in Ohio have announced a new initiative that would do just that.
Advocates of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment are attempting to put their measure to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 general election. The initiative, described by supporters as a “free market” approach, would allow anyone 21 and older to possess and use marijuana and hemp, while establishing a system of licensed retail outlets and cultivation centers. Home cultivation for personal use would also be allowed.
“If you can own a bar, or make beer, wine or spirits, you will be able to own a marijuana dispensary, processor or cultivation,” says initiative supporters, who need to collect 305,592 signatures from registered voters in order to place the issue on next year’s ballot.
The Athens Cannabis Ordinance – better known as “TACO” – to completely remove all penalties for possessing, cultivating, and gifting of up to 200 grams of marijuana was approved by voters on election day by a vote of 77 percent to 23 percent.
In November 2016, four Ohio municipalities – Newark, Logan, Roseville, and Bellaire – passed similar depenalization ballot measures. Under Ohio state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine, but no jail time or criminal record.
“Voters overwhelmingly approved of TACO because the continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of the vast majority of adults in the United States, 64 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “While politicians continue to drag their feet, citizens are showing leadership at the local and state level in jurisdictions where the ability to achieve marijuana reform is possible at the ballot box.”
Ohio’s full legislature has now given approval to legislation (House Bill 523) that would legalize the possession, use and state-licensed distribution of cannabis based medicines for medical use. The vote in the House of Representatives was 67 to 28, while the Senate passed the bill with an 18 to 15 vote.
The measure now goes to Governor John Kasich for consideration; Kasich has the option of signing it into law, vetoing it, or allowing it to become law without his signature. If it does become law, those who receive a recommendation from a physician would be able to use and possess cannabis medicines such as edibles and tinctures. Patients would also be able to vape cannabis, though smoking would unfortunately remain prohibited.
The nonprofit organization Ohioans for Medical Marijuana has released the text of their initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Ohio, which the group is attempting to place on this November’s ballot.
Under the proposed law, those with a qualifying condition – including AIDS, cancer, PTSD and severe pain, among others – who receive a recommendation from a physician can legally possess, use and grow (up to six plants) cannabis for medical purposes. State-licensed cannabis cultivation centers, testing facilities and dispensaries would also be legalized.
Approximately three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to legalize the medical use of cannabis, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling released today.
The survey of 672 randomly selected Ohio voters was conducted February 17-18, just as advocates are preparing to launch a campaign in support of a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis. It found 74% of voters in favor and only 22% opposed with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8%.
“It’s become pretty common knowledge that marijuana can be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative.