A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana cleared a major hurdle this week when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the petition for a statewide vote.
The amendment still needs approval from the Ohio Ballot Board before advocates can begin collecting the 306,000 signatures required to qualify.
Jonathan Varner, spokesman for Ohio Families for Change, which sponsored the measure, said the group is looking at filing signatures for the 2019 November election.
That should not be a problem in Ohio although the timeframe is tight. Signatures would need to be submitted by early July.
"This is unfortunate, because people are being arrested daily for activity that simply shouldn't be criminal, only to support a black-market system," Varner said in an email to Cleveland.com. "We're confident that when voters have the opportunity to vote on this issue, they will overwhelmingly approve it.”
This new vote comes after Ohio voters rejected a constitutional amendment in 2015 that would have legalized cannabis. Voters rejected it because the amendment came with a requirement that all commercially sold weed had to be grown at 10 specified sites that had been promised to wealthy campaign investors. Ohioans did not want a monopoly on their weed cultivation.
The amendment certified by Attorney General DeWine does not limit grow sites, but allows the state legislature to regulate a recreational weed industry.
The amendment also allows people to cultivate their own cannabis without limiting how much can be grown or bought for personal use, unlike the 2015 amendment. It leaves the state’s medical marijuana program in place.
Ohio Families for Change seem pleased with the wording of the new amendment.
"It gives the small entrepreneur an equal footing with the cannabis conglomerates, while decriminalizing personal adult use of marijuana," Varner said in Cleveland.com.
"It goes beyond existing Ohio law to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals and pesticides that can be found in cannabis, and has stringent measures to keep marijuana away from persons under 21 years of age."