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Ohio's cannabis advocates submit 29K more signatures for legalization initiative after recent setback

Ohio landscape

Advocates behind an effort to legalize adult-use marijuana submitted additional voter signatures on Thursday to put their proposal before Ohio lawmakers.  The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in another 29,918 signatures after falling short earlier this month, reported The Columbus Dispatch. They say that now they are confident they can get lawmakers to take up the issue.

The group submitted over 200,000 signatures as part of the initiated statute process, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office determined only 119,825 were valid.

The proposal would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.

Momentum Building

Ohio's legalization momentum has been building in 2021. Over the past several years, 22 jurisdictions across the state have adopted local statutes to decriminalize cannabis possession. 

In July, Reps. Terrence Upchurch (D) and Casey Weinstein (D) began circulating a draft memo to their colleagues to garner support prior to formally filing a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis, marking the first time a proposal allowing recreational cannabis commerce was introduced in the state legislature.

In October, Ohio Rep. Jamie Callender (R) held a press conference to unveil his new proposal that would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess marijuana. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Ferguson (R), would provide regulations for the licensing of cannabis growers, distributors, and retailers. They filed Ohio's Adult Use Act in December. 

Ferguson said, “the foundational principles for this country (…) have been to support people's individual rights and liberties, adults should be able to make decisions for themselves, and that is what this bill does.”

Callender referred to the precarious state of the economy and argued that the bill would bring extra funding that would go to the general revenue fund and can get the legislature more financial flexibility without having to look at tax increases in the future.

Activists succeeded in collecting enough signatures to qualify cannabis proposals for the November ballot. Seven of those jurisdictions ultimately approved local measures to decriminalize cannabis, reported Marijuana Moment.

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