View of downtown Columbus, Ohio from the North Bank Park Pavilion on the Scioto River. Creative Commons

Ohio has taken the first step toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use after the state’s attorney general approved paperwork that would allow the issue to be decided by voters. On Friday, Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, certified ResponsibleOhio’s petition to put pot legalization on the ballot and has sent it to the Ohio Ballot Board, which has 10 days to review the language of the petition and approve it for signature gathering, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

"Voters deserve a thoughtful conversation on this important issue, and we are eager to continue this conversation in the coming months," Lydia Bolander, a spokeswoman for ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the petition, said in a statement, according to the Chronicle-Telegram. “With today's certification, we can now move forward with the next step of the campaign -- gaining approval from the Ohio Ballot Board." Once the board certifies the petition, backers can start collecting the over 300,000 signatures required to get it to a vote.

Ohio decriminalized marijuana possession in 2011. Several attempts have been made over the years to legalize cannabis in Ohio for medical use, but backers routinely failed to submit the required number of signatures on time. The state legislature is currently considering a bill, introduced in February, that would legalize certain cannabis-derived drugs, called cannabidiols, for treating people with seizure disorders.

Under the proposed ballot measure, adults 21 and older would be able to grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes. The proposal includes creating a regulatory commission to control marijuana production and sales in Ohio, allowing the state to tax marijuana sales at 5 percent.

DeWine initially rejected the petition when it was first submitted in February because the ballot proposal “omits that the proposed amendment permits the sharing of specified amounts of marijuana between adults 21 years old and older” and “does not accurately reflect the manner in which proposed taxes would be distributed,” according to the Dispatch. ResponsibleOhio revised the proposal to reflect those changes.