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Ohio Adult-Use Legalization Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot
Published on August 18, 2023

Ohio voters will have a chance to decide whether adult-use cannabis should be legalized now that a citizen petition qualified for the November ballot.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol gathered enough valid signatures in a second round of signature gathering, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In an Aug. 16 letter to the coalition and its attorney, LaRose said 127,772 total signatures were valid, 3,000 more than needed to qualify for the ballot.

After submitting more than 223,000 signatures in July, the coalition came up short and needed 679 more valid signatures. At least 124,046 valid signatures were necessary to qualify for the ballot. LaRose gave the group 10 days to gather them. 

On Aug. 3, the coalition submitted another 6,459 signatures, of which 4,405 were valid, according to LaRose. Additionally, the coalition surpassed a requirement of gathering 1.5% of total votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election in each of at least 44 Ohio counties.

“Therefore, in the absence of judicial direction to the contrary, I will direct the boards of elections to place the proposed law on the November 7, 2023 General Election ballot,” LaRose wrote.

Marijuana_Legalization_and_Pending_Legislation-16

Map includes states with low-THC access for medical use. Some states have multiple legalization bills pending. Color indicates highest use proposed. Map created using mapchart.net.

The initiative would legalize adult consumption and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and allow personal cultivation of up to six plants. It would permit controlled and regulated cultivation and sales by licensed businesses overseen by a new Division of Cannabis Control under the Department of Commerce. It would also limit criminal liability for financial institutions that provide services to licensed cannabis businesses. 

Meanwhile, an opposition group, Protect Ohio Workers and Families, has reportedly formed to fight the measure. Representatives from both sides of the issue did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Ohio has had a medical cannabis program since 2016 and has more than 377,000 registered patients, as of June 30. According to CRB Monitor’s database, there were 234 active business licenses as of Aug. 7. 

A recent poll found that more than 58% of registered voters in Ohio support legalizing possession and sales of cannabis.

-- Maria Brosnan Liebel, CRB Monitor News

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