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Ohio Will Vote on Recreational Marijuana Legalization in November

recreational weed in OH

Ohio state officials have announced the state’s residents are likely to go for adult marijuana legalization voting in November this year. If passed, it will become legal to possess and grow recreational marijuana at home. Commercial production and sales will become legal too. The Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose stated on Wednesday notifying the coalition to control the use of marijuana in the state the same way as alcohol. 

He said that the coalition submitted 127,772 valid signatures for valid voters and exceeded the minimum requirement of 124,046 required to submit a proposal for a ballot. LaRose said since the judiciary didn’t offer a contrary ruling, he directed the elections board to prepare for an Ohio recreational marijuana ballot on November 7, 2023.

Lawmakers failed to act

Although the proposal had been presented to the legislators, they didn’t take any action to pass recreational marijuana in Ohio leaving the state’s residents to make the decision. After voting, the new law will allow users who have attained the legal use age of 21 to carry a maximum of 2.5 ounces of pot. All purchases will attract a 10% tax. The amount will be used on administrative costs, to support addiction treatments, employment programs, and Social funds, and to support municipalities with dispensaries. 

The coalition had submitted signatures below the threshold but was allowed an extra 10 days to cover the deficit. Within that time, they managed to collect an extra 4,405 valid signatures. If the recreational marijuana Ohio is voted for, Ohio will be the 24th state to legalize adult-use marijuana. The coalition spokesman Tom Haren said the success of collecting enough valid signatures was not groundbreaking. 

He said they were simply working to bring Ohio into line with its nearby states of Michigan and Illinois. Tom said the coalition was grateful to the many Ohioans who supported them to get to this point. He added they were delighted to present their proposal for recreational marijuana in Ohio legalization like alcohol to voters on ballot day. 

A department to oversee marijuana licensing is to be established

If the recreational marijuana Ohio is passed, the proposal will also create a division in Ohio’s Department of Commerce that will manage marijuana dispensaries licensing. The proposal also aims to direct the Department of Development to analyze the old marijuana laws and determine if they unfairly impacted certain communities. 

The US federal government has yet to legalize marijuana. However, marijuana use is legal in many states after residents in the states voted for legalization in recent years. For instance, Maryland, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Dakota cast votes last year and passed legalization. Additionally, Oklahoma voters rejected adult use legalization but Minnesota voters voted in support this year. 

When voting for Ohio recreational marijuana legalization measure, Ohio residents will also vote for a spate measure to include rights to abortion in the state’s constitution. Last week, voters rejected Issue 1, a proposal that sought to increase the benchmark to pass amendments in the Constitution to by 60% vote instead of a simple majority.  

The Ohio recreational marijuana proposal went through a long journey

Ohio recreational marijuana has gone through a journey of more than 1 ½ years since early 2022. On January 28, 2022, LaRose on behalf of the coalition presented petitions to the Ohio legislators. Immediately, the clock began to tick into a four-month countdown for the legislator’s action. 

The majority Replication General Assembly indicated they were not willing to pass the recreational marijuana in Ohio proposal into law. They also maintained the coalition did not submit the signatures in time to prepare for the ballot in 2022. It was at this point that the coalition sued and an agreement was reached to hold on until 2023. The coalition still had a lot of groundwork to do to make sure they collected enough signatures. 

Their first submission this year was on July 5 when they submitted slightly above 222,000 signatures exceeding the threshold by over 125,000 signatures. The coalition was surprised three weeks later after LaRose announced the team had missed the threshold of 124,046 by nearly 700 signatures. The coalition had a 10-day window under the law to meet the threshold. 

They had to collect fresh signatures that were not in the initial document submitted earlier. After the announcement by LaRose, Tom made a statement acknowledging the deficit. He said since it was below 700, meeting it was easy since most Ohio residents favored recreational marijuana Ohio legalization. 

Tom expressed excitement about giving state voters a chance to speak out until their opinions are considered in November. He said this in a message to the Columbus Dispatch. In 2016, the state approved the medicinal consumption of marijuana. 

Social platforms played a significant role

The coalition went back to the drawing board and strategized to begin another wave of collecting signatures. They chose social media as the best strategy to reach out to as many valid voters as possible. The team created social media posts and added Reddit to the list. By August 3, the coalition had managed to collect an extra 6,545 valid signatures and submitted them one day before the deadline. 

On Wednesday, LaRose issued a statement saying the coalition presented enough signatures beyond the threshold of valid signatures. LaRose said this set the pace for Ohioans to get ready to vote in November. If the voting favors legalization, Ohioans who are 21 years or older will be able to own up to 2.5 ounces (about 70 g) of pot and 15g of pot concentrates and propagate up to 12 plants indoors. The new law will require some of the licenses to be set aside for the neighborhoods most impacted by the state’s marijuana regulations.

The proposal already had a drawback because it lacks measures for expunging those serving jail sentences for marijuana offenses under the current marijuana laws. Those already convicted or awaiting to be convicted might not benefit from the new law immediately. In the meantime, Ohio residents can only hope for the best positive outcomes in the November ballot.

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