Supporters of a proposal to legalize marijuana in Ohio got the green light Monday to collect signatures to place the measure before state lawmakers.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's proposed statute was approved as a single issue by the Ohio Ballot Board, a panel of legislative appointees led by Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The group will soon begin collecting the 132,887 signatures of registered Ohio voters needed to submit the proposed law to the state Legislature.
If the Legislature doesn't pass or passes an amended version of the bill, supporters can collect another 132,887 signatures to put the proposal before voters, likely in November 2022.
The proposed law would allow adults age 21 and older to buy, grow, possess and consume marijuana. Proceeds of a 10% tax on marijuana would go to education, addiction treatment and municipalities with marijuana businesses. Municipalities could limit or ban marijuana businesses within their borders.
Ohio's medical marijuana businesses, several of which are backing the plan, could automatically get licenses for the recreational side. The bill establishes 40 new cultivation licenses and 50 additional dispensary licenses for economically and socially disadvantaged "social equity" applicants. Additional licenses would be granted two years later depending on market demand.
"We’re happy with today’s outcome and believe the ballot board made the right call on this one,” campaign spokesman Tom Haren said in a news release.
The group plans to start collecting signatures "as soon as possible," Haren said, but hasn't set times and places for people to sign.