COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Two Ohio lawmakers celebrated World Weed Day on 4/20 in their own way.
In an effort to pressure state lawmakers to consider a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio, Reps. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) introduced the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s initiative to the legislature Wednesday.
Submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office with 206,943 signatures in late December, Weinstein said the General Assembly has stalled for three months on considering whether to enact the initiative into law.
Weinstein, who introduced a similar House bill to legalize cannabis in July, said he’s hopeful that the formal introduction of the ballot initiative will serve as a “legislative vehicle” to catalyze its movement before lawmakers.
“It appears to be GOP leadership blocking any action on this,” Weinstein said. “Representative Upchurch and I wanted to take this into our own hands and be responsive to the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who signed in support.”
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), however, said he doesn’t believe enough lawmakers will support the ballot initiative, nor does his support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to his spokesperson Aaron Mulvey.
The ballot initiative would legalize the possession, purchase and sale of recreational marijuana by adults, according to Tom Haren, a Cleveland attorney and spokesperson for the coalition.
In addition to allowing home growth of up to six marijuana plants, the initiative would levy a 10% tax on marijuana sales and allocate the tax revenue toward various social programs, like substance abuse and addiction research, Haren said.
A slight majority of Ohioans, 50.4%, support the legalization of recreational marijuana, with 39% opposed and 10% undecided, according to a February 2022 Emerson College poll.
“The vast majority of polling across the country makes it clear that (federal) prohibition is going to end, and it should end – it’s bad policy,” Haren said. “Polling gets more and more favorable. If it’s on the ballot, it will pass.”
The General Assembly has until May 28 to consider the initiative, Haren said. If the bill stalls past the deadline, the coalition must submit an additional 132,977 signatures to place the initiative on the ballot in November – leaving the decision to legalize cannabis up to voters.