COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The debate over recreational marijuana in Ohio could be put in voter’s hands if lawmakers don’t act first.
In 2015, Ohioans voted down a proposal to legalize marijuana, but since then, some opinions have changed, and now there may be another opportunity to vote on the issue.
For years, medical use of marijuana has been legal in the Buckeye State, but not recreational use. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is not taking a creative approach to change that.
“It’s an issue that crosses, certainly, political lines, socioeconomic lines, really whatever lines you can draw, marijuana legalization is popular,” said Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
The group is proposing a new state law that would legalize 2.5 ounces of marijuana for Ohioans 21 years old and older.
“One of the things that our proposal does is it take 36 percent of that tax revenue and directs it to a new cannabis social equity and jobs fund,” Haren said.
SAM – Smart Approaches for Marijuana – is pushing for decriminalizing possession, but not the sale of, marijuana.
The group doubts communities, especially of color, will see benefits to legalization.
“We need to focus on real policies that help with social justice, like decriminalization and expungement, things that address the root cause,” said SAM spokesperson Luke Niforatos.
The plan has been turned into the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Once approved, the group will work on getting the thousands of signatures needed for the bill to go in front of lawmakers.
“We are committed to working as hard as we can to get it passed through the legislature and, look, we believe that is what will pass through the General Assembly and ultimately be signed into law,” Haren said.
There is a bipartisan group of lawmakers who support legalizing cannabis, but Gov. Mike DeWine has been adamantly against it.
If the bill can’t get through the General Assembly, the group can collect signatures and send the issue to voters.
The coalition pushing the initiative said time is of the essence since the federal government is looking into declassifying marijuana.