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Enough signatures collected to present marijuana legalization statute to lawmakers, group says

If verified by Secretary of State, legislators will have 4 months to consider statute
Recreational Marijuana
Posted at 5:21 PM, Dec 20, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Monday, the Coalition to Regular Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 206,943 signatures in support of a statute that would legalize adult-use marijuana to the Ohio Secretary of State, and if verified and other requirements are met, the statute will be presented to Ohio legislators for consideration, the group stated in a news release.

The Secretary of State will begin verifying the signatures in coordination with county boards of elections, the release states. If at least 132,877 signatures are verified and the 44-county requirement is met, the statute will be presented to state lawmakers.

“The success of our petition drive shows just how eager Ohioans are to end prohibition and legalize the adult use of marijuana,” said spokesman Tom Haren. “We look forward to receiving the results of the Secretary of State’s review, and are eager to begin working with legislators on this important issue.”

The proposed law would legalize and regulate the cultivation, manufacture, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products to residents 21 and up. The proposal allows for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of marijuana extract.

It would also legalize growing at home up to six marijuana plants per person over 21 and 12 plants per household.

In addition to regular local and state sales taxes, the statute would include a 10% tax rate on sales, with proceeds from the tax allocated as follows, according to the news release:

● 36% of the tax will support social equity and jobs programs - if passed, it is estimated this could generate $150 million or more annually for social equity and jobs programs in Ohio.

● 36% to provide funding for communities who host adult use cannabis dispensaries - if passed, it is estimated this could generate $150 million or more annually for the communities who have adult use dispensaries.

● 25% to fund education and treatment for individuals with addiction issues - if passed, this statute could generate $104 million or more annually to research and treat substance abuse in Ohio.

● 3% to the Division of Cannabis Control and Tax Commissioner fund to cover regulatory and administrative costs for overseeing the adult use cannabis industry.

“Eighteen states have already legalized cannabis for adult use, including our neighbor to the north” stated Haren. “Ohio is behind the curve on this issue and can’t afford continued inaction.”

Ohio legislators will have four months to consider the legislation if it is presented to them, Haren said. If the bill is not passed, the CRMLA can collect 132,877 more signatures to present the issue to Ohio vot4ers on the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot.

Haren’s proposal is not the only current effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio – two Ohio House Democrats have introduced legislation and House Republicans have announced a proposal of their own that is similar to the Democrats’ plan, but have yet to introduce a formal bill themselves.

Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) introduced legislation with key differences from the initiated statute proposal. Their bill contains an expungement program, allows possession of up to five ounces of marijuana, and others.

The legislation, introduced in August, has yet to receive its first hearing from the House Finance Committee.

In addition, a bipartisan group of Ohio senators earlier this year proposed broadly expanding the current medical marijuana program to allow doctors to prescribe it whenever they “reasonably” believe a patient might benefit.

RELATED: Recreational marijuana nearing enough signatures to force lawmakers’ hands, organizer says

Reporting from the Ohio Capital Journal was included in this story.