A popular Ohio medical marijuana petition that wanted to amend the state constitution to legalize cannabis will not appear on this year's ballot because of suspected fraud. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted named Wednesday a special investigator to review what he said were discrepancies in ResponsibleOhio's petitions.
Attorney David Bowers will investigate the disparity between the number of petitions and signatures ResponsibleOhio claimed to collect and the number the group actually submitted to Husted's office, according to Cleaveland.com. "There are also discrepancies between the hard-copy petitions and what should have been identical electronic copies of those petitions," Bowers said in a statement.
The "Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment" would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for certain medical conditions and allow patients to grow up to eight flowering plants for personal use. Each county would have one marijuana dispensary for every 50,000 residents and one commercial pot farm per 100,000 residents.
If fraud is found, ResponsibleOhio could be charged with up to a fifth-degree felony.
Larry James, who represents ResponsibleOhio, said the organization was the one to discover the discrepancies. "We brought these very discrepancies to Secretary Husted, and now he's trying to punish us for pointing them out publicly," said James in a statement.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office had also rejected the petition Wednesday because of issues with the summary language, reports Ohio television station WMFJ. Attorney General Mike DeWine said he found "at least four defects" in the language of the petition titled "Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment."
DeWine said the petition does not entail a timeline or the reasons for which the proposed commission may revoke patient registry cards. The amendment also does not include much of the proposed conditions included in the summary language of the petition.
"For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment," DeWine stated in a letter to the petitioners.
There have been 23 states that have legalized some form of medical marijuana, with the first being California in 1996. Others states such as Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have gone on to legalize marijuana entirely.