Ohio lawmakers block cannabis ballot effort

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While the rest of the country advances marijuana legalization, Ohio will remain in the dark ages

Ohioans who want to express their opinion on legalizing adult-use cannabis won’t have a chance this year. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol (CRMLA), organizers of a ballot initiative, announced that they will suspend their 2022 campaign on May 13, and instead aim for 2023, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

This decision follows two weeks of CRMLA legalization advocates filing a lawsuit against Ohio House speaker Bob Cupp, as well as Senate President Matt Huffman. They allege that the GOP leaders tried to block their 2022 ballot effort based on a signature-gathering technicality.

CRMLA submitted 206,943 signatures to Ohio Secretary Frank LaRose’s Office before the January 3 deadline. LaRose was also named as a defendant in this lawsuit. His office refused to accept more than 87,000 signatures. This means that CRMLA’s efforts were short of the 133,000 signatures needed to submit its statute to the General Assembly.

To meet the required benchmark, CRMLA officials submitted additional signatures January 13. LaRose certified these extra signatures on January 28. GOP leaders, however, questioned the legitimacy of the additional signatures as they were submitted after the January 3 deadline.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the timing of CRMLA’s proposed initiative being considered by the General Assembly and possibly to qualify for the November ballot in 2022, officials of the coalition sought to expedite their claims for declaratory relief. CRMLA’s collected signatures will be included in the settlement. The General Assembly will then have another chance to review the proposed statute.

The proposed statute of the coalition would allow and regulate the purchase, cultivation, processing, and sale cannabis to adults 21-plus. The proposed statute would also allow home cultivation of up to six plants per person and 12 per household.

The measure also suggested a 10% sales tax on cannabis, with the revenue going towards state costs for a legalized program, substance abuse and addiction treatment programs, supporting municipalities with dispensaries, and social equity programs and jobs.