There has been much talk this year that Ohio may legalize marijuana in the very near future. But, how close are we, really?
The most direct way to the legalization of marijuana is to amend the Ohio Constitution. In order to get a proposed amendment to the voters, proponents must submit a summary of the amendment to the Attorney General, along with at least 1,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters. The Attorney General then makes a determination as to whether the language submitted is a "fair and truthful" summary of the amendment. At that point, the Ballot Board approves the language to be used and decides how to place the proposed amendment on the ballot. Only with the Ballot Board's approval can the petitioners begin collecting the 305,591 signatures needed to get on the November ballot. The deadline for the November ballot is July 1.
Currently, there is at least one group, ResponsibleOhio, targeting the November 2015 ballot. Their plan would legalize marijuana for both personal and medical use and permit those over 21 to have up to four marijuana plants and up to eight ounces of dried marijuana. The tax would be 15% when grown and manufactured and up to 5% at retail locations.
Several other organizations are gearing up for the 2016 ballot. Ohio Rights Group is pushing for medical marijuana and for the declassification of hemp as a drug so that farmers can legally grow and harvest the crop. They failed to get enough signatures for the 2015 ballot, but will continue to collect signatures for 2016. Better for Ohio's proposal would legalize marijuana for both personal and medical use and permit adults to have up to eight plants and eight ounces of marijuana. This proposal has already been approved by the Ballot Board and is in the process of collecting signatures. Ohioans to End Prohibition's proposal, which was approved by Attorney General DeWine on June 17, would also legalize both personal and medical use and permit hemp farming.
Jessica D' Varga is a Ohio defense attorney with The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. If you need representation in a criminal case contact the firm for a free consultation.