COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cannabis advocates announced plans Tuesday to put the question of legalized recreational marijuana before Ohio lawmakers and potentially voters in 2022.
The group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said it is drafting language that will go to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Once the language has been approved, the group will be tasked with collecting 132,000 signatures throughout Ohio.
If the group is successful in collecting 132,000 signatures from valid Ohio voters, the initiative would go before Ohio lawmakers, who could accept the proposal as presented. If lawmakers decline, the question could go before voters in 2022.
“We are proposing to regulate marijuana for adult use, just like we do for alcohol. Our proposal fixes a broken system while ensuring local control, keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and benefiting everyone,” said group spokesman Tom Haren in a statement.
The bill would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of adult use cannabis in any form except adult use extract and 15 grams of adult use cannabis in the form of adult use extract.
Currently, possession of small amounts of marijuana is considered a minor misdemeanor.
In 2015, Ohio voters soundly turned down — by a 64-36 margin — a ballot measure that would have legalized limited use and possession of recreational marijuana in Ohio. In the years since, a number of states have made recreational marijuana legal.
Unlike the 2015 measure, this proposal would be a statute and not an amendment to the state constitution.
Among those who opposed the 2015 ballot initiative was then Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who faces a gubernatorial re-election bid next year.
“Ohio will be fundamentally changed if Issue 3 passes. ... There’s going to be plenty of marijuana to go around,” DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch in 2015.
Another gubernatorial candidate, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, recently announced his support behind recreational marijuana.
“If we legalized marijuana we could invest that tax revenue right back into our communities,” Cranley said in a tweet. “We could rebuild our roads and fund public education. We could expand healthcare for our communities. It's time we legalize marijuana in Ohio.”
Part of Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's argument is that its proposal would generate millions for state programs under a 10% tax.
Although some jurisdictions have legalized recreational marijuana, marijuana possession remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substances Act.
The proposed language is on the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol webpage.