Residents of Ohio who hoped the “Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment” would make it to the ballot this year, received saddening news today, as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected the petition on the eve of the marijuana holiday. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, DeWine noted at least three specific instances where the full text and the amendment summary did not line up.
“The summary says the General Assembly has the authority to regulate marijuana commerce, but that doesn’t accurately match the amendment.
“The summary doesn’t mention that marijuana businesses are only lawful in precincts where a majority votes for the amendment.
“The summary doesn’t reference the requirement that lawmakers ‘enact and enable laws, rules, and regulations’ within 240 days after the amendment takes effect.”
DeWine also made a point to mention that these three instances were not necessarily the only defects within the amendment summary.
“However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”
As those who follow Ohio’s marijuana legislature know, the state attempted and failed to legalize marijuana in 2015. The 2015 attempt to legalize recreational marijuana had the support of both wealthy investors and several businesses. This year, the amendment does not have that same support.
At this point in the process, DeWine’s job was merely to determine whether the petition summary accurately described the amendment.
Ohio Families for Change, the group backing the petition, plans to make the necessary changes to the summary, acquire 1,000 signatures of registered voters in the state of Ohio, and re-submit the petition by next week.
While the group wants the amendment to make it onto the November ballot, many speculate this is unlikely on such a tight deadline, because they do not have that same funding and support the 2015 amendment had.
If the Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment became a part of the Ohio Constitution, residents of the state age 21 and over would be able to legally possess, grow (produce), transport, sell, use, and share cannabis. With this amendment in place, the Ohio legislature would have to create laws on how to handle marijuana impairment (like current alcohol laws). There would not be any changes made to the current nascent medical marijuana program within the state.
If the group re-submits and DeWine approves the re-submission, the supporters would still need to collect a minimum of 305,591 signatures from registered voters in the state of Ohio to turn in by July 4. Without these signatures, the issue would not make it onto this year’s November ballot.
Fortunately, for those in support of the amendment, the collected signatures do not expire. So, if the group does not make the deadline for the ballot this year, they can continue collecting signatures to get on the ballot before the next election.