Attorney General Certifies Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment



Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified more than 1,000 "valid signatures" brought forth by the Ohio Rights Group with the intent to put a ballot measure before voters sometime in the future.

That ballot measure would revolve around legalizing medical and therapeutic marijuana, as well as industrial hemp. The next step for the group is approval from the Ohio Ballot Board, which will meet May 23. Then, the group must collect at least 385,253 signatures from registered Ohio voters.

That process will ride the wave of growing support for medical marijuana use in the U.S. There are 18 states at this point that boast legal medical marijuana laws. Last November, Colorado and Washington made major headlines with their respective voter approval of recreational marijuana.

"Marijuana and medical marijuana have become a constant theme in the media in the past couple months," Mary Jane Borden, secretary and treasurer of Ohio Rights Group, says. And the public conversations that revolve around those themes in the media are pushing awareness of what a medical marijuana-friendly Ohio would look like. Borden explains that the amendment would include a statement of rights, as well as the establishment of a commission to oversee the transition from marijuana's currently illegal market into a legal market (comprising dispensaries) embedded within the medical framework of the state.

The group has not announced whether it will seek a ballot issue in 2013 or 2014, though the timeframe suggests a run toward 2014. For this fall's ballot, those hundreds of thousands of signatures would be due by July 3. "That's doable," Borden says, but caution and practicality may underscore a more patient approach.

Also, in the legislative branch of our state government: State Rep. Robert Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, has introduced two bills in the Statehouse that would legalize marijuana use in Ohio. It's unclear what trajectory those bills will take, though Hagan's longstanding support of legal marijuana is certainly a boon to proponents around the state.

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