Pro-pot activists in Ohio are making headway in getting legal marijuana on the 2015 ballot. The group behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational weed in the state has collected more than half of the 306,000 signatures needed to get the amendment before voters in November, according to WDTN-TV. If successful, the measure would make Ohio the fifth state to allow marijuana to be grown, sold and purchased by adults 21 years of age and older.
The group is required to gain signatures from 44 of the state’s 88 counties and has until July to submit them. "We've certainly seen very positive momentum so far. We're moving at a pretty good pace in terms of how we're collecting these signatures," Lydia Bolander, a spokeswoman for ResponsibleOhio, the group sponsoring the measure, told Cleveland.com. The organization has been collecting signatures in the state’s metro areas and will move on from there, according to Bolander.
In March, the state’s attorney general took the first step toward allowing marijuana to go before voters. Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine certified ResponsibleOhio’s petition on March 13 before sending it to the Ohio Ballot Board for approval. The board accepted the proposal for signature gathering later that month.
The amendment would allow adults 21 and over to use marijuana for any purpose, legalize medical marijuana for minors with parental approval, and allow adults to apply for licenses to grow up to four cannabis plants of their own for personal use. It also would limit the number of grow sites to 10 and give those sites to the investors funding the ballot campaign, according to Cincinnati.com.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Four of those states have made recreational pot legal for adults 21 and older.
Nine states have legislation or ballot measures in the works to legalize medical marijuana in 2015: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
ResponsibleOhio’s effort to legalize weed hasn’t been without controversy. Another pro-marijuana group, Ohio Rights Group, has accused ResponsibleOhio’s founders of sabotaging Ohio Rights Group’s 2014 campaign to get medical marijuana on the ballot. With less funding and a smaller network, Ohio Rights Group never stood a chance, according to reports. The group filed a complaint on April 13 with the Ohio Elections Commission against ResponsibleOhio’s founder, Ian James, accusing him of using his personal relationship with Ohio Rights Group’s executive director to glean information about the group’s financial donors and sabotage their effort. ResponsibleOhio responded to the complaint, calling it “bogus.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has previously said he opposes legalizing marijuana in Ohio because of what he said was a lack of medical evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment.