An Ohio advocacy group is hopeful after falling short earlier this month, as they turned in another set of signatures they believe will force the Ohio General Assembly to vote on adult-use cannabis legalization legislation.
“We fully expect to hear that we exceeded the required number of valid signatures,” Tom Haren, spokesperson for The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol told Grown In Thursday. “We submitted approximately 30,000 signatures that are in the process of being validated by local county boards of election. We’re not sure when we will hear back from the local boards.”
Coalition supporters were forced to collect additional signatures after Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose informed the group that only 119,825 signatures of the more than 206,943 signatures the group submitted Dec. 20 were valid. The group needed 132,887 valid signatures to get their proposal in front of the Ohio General Assembly.
Those first round signatures were sent from the Secretary of State’s office to the individual counties from where they were gathered to be validated.
“I believe they have enough signatures this time,” said Tim Johnson, a cannabis industry consultant who is supporting the effort along with other advocates.
The adult-use legalization legislation is significantly different from other proposals introduced in the state legislature, says Simon Dunkle, spokesperson for NORML Appalachia of Ohio told Grown In Thursday.
“The home-grow component is necessary, to make the plant accessible to everyone,” he added.
The initiated statute would allow adults ages 21 and older to buy, possess, grow, and consume cannabis and would include adult-use cultivation, processing, and dispensary licenses, home grow up to six plants per adult with a maximum of 12 plants per household and set a 10% sales tax at the point of sale.
Ohio’s unique initiated statute process allows petition gatherers to submit a bill from Ohio voters for a vote by the Ohio General Assembly. The legislature is then allowed four months to vote on the proposal. If it fails to act, the petitioners can then seek to put the issue on the November statewide ballot by gathering an additional 133,000 valid signatures.
County boards of election on Jan. 13, were sent specific instructions from the Secretary of State’s office on how to conduct the verification process for the remaining signatures gathered and must return those certifications to the Secretary of State no later than noon, Jan. 28, according to documents provided by the Secretary of State’s Office.
According to the Ohio Constitution, petitioners are required to gather a number of valid signatures equal to at least 3% of the total votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election. Calculating a result from the 2018 election, petitioners must gather 132,887 valid signatures.