Shaking Out the Differences in Ohio's Two Medical Marijuana Ballot Proposals

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Today, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified Grassroots Ohioans' petition summary, which laid out the group's intended Medical Marijuana and Industrial Hemp amendment. With that, the state suddenly has two medical marijuana proposals in the works — each with the stated goal of landing on the November ballot.

The Grassroots Ohioans amendment is fairly straightforward. There is no regulatory structure prescribed for the state constitution, though the group will circulate a citizen-initiated statute to set up marijuana rules as laws. In short, the amendment asserts the rights of adults to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes. Notably, the proposal would also allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, which can be used to produce paper, textiles, plastics and many other common products.

Lastly, the Grassroots Ohioans amendment would prohibit law enforcement and the courts system from citing only the presence of marijuana metabolites in blood or urine to prove the impairment of a driver. The idea there is that metabolites may remain in the system weeks after marijuana use. (Amendment language was posted in a Google Doc, which was shared and edited "by hundreds of citizens, local stakeholders, and experts prior to submission," according to the group.)

Meanwhile, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, with the backing of the Marijuana Policy Project, is collecting signatures for its own amendment. Under that proposal, 15 commercial growing licenses would be issued to large-scale growers who pay a $500,000 application fee, and smaller-scale growers would have access to an unlimited number of licenses across the state (that is to say, individual approved patients could grow up to six plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana). 

That amendment also seeks a Medical Marijuana Control Division, which would develop and oversee marijuana rules and issue business licenses. 

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