COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohioans will vote this fall on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Wednesday evening.
The initiated statute will join an abortion rights constitutional amendment and local elections — such as Columbus’ election for mayor and city council — on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The statute generally seeks to legalize “adult-use” sale, purchase and possession of cannabis for Ohioans who are 21 and older. Under the text of the proposed law, Ohioans could also grow a small number of plants in their homes. More information about the proposal in its entirety is available here.
After being told it was short on signatures to get a statute on the ballot in late July, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said Aug. 3 it submitted thousands of supplemental signatures to the secretary of state’s office. Those were verified over the last two weeks, confirming the coalition had gathered enough signatures to meet the mark for the fall ballot.
Initially, the coalition submitted 222,198 signatures. At least 124,046 of those had to be verified by Ohio county’s boards of elections, which the coalition was just shy of, so under Ohio law, it had 10 days to collect additional names.
When it came time to resubmit, the coalition sent in 6,459 additional signatures — 4,405 of which were rendered valid by county boards of election.
“We are grateful to the thousands of Ohioans who helped us get to this point and are excited to bring our proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol before Ohio voters this coming Election Day,” coalition spokesperson Tom Haren said in a statement.
Close to 59% percent of likely Ohio voters, responding to a recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll, said they would vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Only 6.6% were undecided, with 34.8% against the issue.
If the issue passes, the state plans to levy a 10% adult-use tax on all marijuana sales in addition to the state’s sales tax. Some of the tax revenue would go toward equity and jobs programs, according to the proposed law’s text.
The coalition has received close to $2.96 million in contributions as of July, according to its latest campaign finance filing. As of that filing, however, it only had about $9,500 in cash on hand. Its biggest donor, so far, is the Marijuana Policy Project — a Washington D.C.-based national organization pushing for marijuana policy overhauls.
Before the initiative was even approved to appear on the November ballot, a coalition against recreational marijuana emerged. It includes the Ohio chapters of the Children’s Hospital Association, Association of Chiefs of Police, and Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, among several other organizations.
The coalition, Protect Ohio Workers and Families, said Wednesday that the proposed law won’t make the state better, instead only enriching “corporate” marijuana.
“Expanding access to this addictive drug brings even more risks to Ohioans, especially for employers who prioritize a safe workplace but already struggle to find workers who can pass a drug test,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The issue made it onto the ballot as an initiated statute rather than a constitutional amendment, so the state legislature has the ability to amend the proposal if it passes into law in November. Legislators could even vote to overturn it in its entirety.
Ohio would be the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana.