by J.D. Davidson


Legalized recreational use of marijuana recently cleared a hurdle on its second attempt but several more have to be passed before it becomes law in Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost gave the go-ahead to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s proposed law after rejecting its original plan in early August, saying the summary proposes to add an entire chapter to the Ohio Revised Code rather than enact a single law and the summary failed to include key elements in the summary.

Yost’s approval of the resubmitted proposal is the next step in a process that could put the proposed law before the Ohio General Assembly. The Ohio Ballot Board now must determine whether the proposal contains a single law or multiple laws.

If the board certifies the petition, the group must collect signatures from at least 3% of registered voters based on the ballots cast in the last gubernatorial election. Those signatures must come from at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties, and in each of those counties the number must be at least 1.5% of the vote cast in the last gubernatorial election.

The petition then must be signed by the secretary of state at least 10 days before the beginning of any General Assembly session, and the secretary of state will send the petition to the General Assembly as soon as it convenes. The general assembly has four months to act.

The proposal then goes to voters if passed. If the General Assembly doesn’t act or amends the petition, a supplemental petition can be circulated for the group to get the proposed law on the ballot at the next general election.

A bill in the Ohio House also looks to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and it includes four key components: decriminalization, a marijuana excise tax, commerce and licensing and medical marijuana. It allows for adult cultivation and possession and calls for the expungement of conviction records for previous cultivation and possession offenses.

Similar to the legislative plan from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the bill includes at 10% tax on a marijuana retailer or microbusiness’ gross marijuana sales receipts. That money would go to primary and secondary schools, roads and bridges repair and up to $20 million annually for clinical trials researching the effectiveness of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of veterans and preventing veteran suicide.

Ohio lawmakers remain on recess until September.

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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Dave Yost” by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Background Photo “Marijuana” by greenserenityca.