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Ohio activists look to pass cannabis reform through petition
It was looking gloomy for the Coalition To Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol (CTRMLA) last month. Through a petition, they were looking to bring a proposal for the legalization of marijuana to local officials in Ohio, but they ran into a tricky speed bump. They were looking to turn in what they believed was the necessary amount of signatures to the state when the secretary of state office informed them that some of their signatures came to be invalid, and thanks to that their petition wouldn’t be able to go through to the next stage.
To add insult to injury the secretary of state office was only giving them a short timeframe to rectify the signature dispute.
Luckily for them through the word of their spokesman they were able to garner 13,000 additional signatures bringing their total above the 132,887 threshold the state has in order to consider a piece of legislation to be brought before officials.
The legislation that lawmakers are now going to be looking over would help to legalize the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for anyone above the age of 21 and allow them to have upwards of 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. In addition to these two groundbreaking laws, people would also be able to have six plants for their own use and 12 for a household.
Other additional things that will come to light if/when this legislation is passed include:
- 10% sales tax on cannabis sales
- A division of Cannabis Control would be set up under the Department of Commerce
When it comes to the new sales tax the money garnered from this tax would be repurposed between different programs.
- 36% for social equity and job programs
- 36% for areas that allow adult-use marijuana enterprises to use their area
- 25% will go to education and substance abuse programs.
- 3% will be for administrative costs for bringing in the systems
If/When the Division of Cannabis Control is created its main duties will be to license, regulate, investigate, and penalize cannabis operators, and testing laboratories for adults, and people required to have a license. This division will also have to hand out 40 recreational cultivator licenses, and 50 adult-use retailer licenses with top priority to be given to those who engage in the cannabis social equity and job program. Then finally the division could also allow regulators to give more licenses for the cannabis recreational market only after two years of the first operator being approved.
Going back to the local level municipalities will be able to waive their option of having cannabis companies that focus on recreational use from operating within their municipality. The catch will be that if they already have medical marijuana firms within their borders they can not stop them from operating. Employers within these municipalities can also prevent their employees from engaging in cannabis use.
Lastly, when it comes to issuing of abuse or addiction to cannabis, regulators will be required to work with the Department of mental health, and addiction services to provide and develop a practical, healthy, and helpful service that will assist people suffering from addiction.
Now that the signatures have been turned in, the next course of action will be for the lawmakers to once again make sure all the signatures are valid. Once that is done, county officials within four months will have to decide whether they will deny it, accept, or accept a newer version with their own personal changes. If they reject the bill all is not lost for this organization. If the organizers can once again gather up the necessary signatures before the November midterm election this time the fate of the bill and cannabis will be put into the hands of the voter.
Ohio in 2015 had a similar moment to pass legislation that would have helped legalize cannabis but that bill was turned down by the voters. During that time the bill faced many hurdles including some voters not agreeing with the clause that would have given control of the cannabis production solely to those who help to fund the bill being put on the ballot in the first place.
There was another attempt before this one campaigned for in 2020 but because of the ongoing pandemic it was brought to a halt and they refocused on the 2022 elections.
Individual organizations and voters alike are not the only ones trying to pass cannabis legislation. In fact, whether you are a Republican or Democrat, both parties in Ohio are looking to please their voters with new cannabis legislation.
The state legislation last year had a groundbreaking proposal brought to the floor by two Democrats. The bill was looking to legalize adults selling, growing, and owning cannabis. It was truly remarkable at the time for it to be happening in Ohio.
But the Republican party was not far behind with two of their own members just last month bringing a bill that would have legalized marijuana in the state. It is clearly not a partisan issue but each side is trying to be the first to claim victory for bringing cannabis to the streets of Ohio legally.
Even though these bills have promised Ohio could soon join the ranks of other states in legalizing cannabis in another way.
Seven cities within Ohio during the latest November elections granted the decriminalization of marijuana within the confines of their municipalities. Now with that momentum under their belts, more cities/organizations are looking to do the same in a handful of cities.
The legalization bug that has been sweeping the country in recent years is making its way into Ohio. What the activist proved even by going back to get the additional signatures is that there are people looking for cannabis reform and they are looking for it sooner rather than later. The tides are turning.
Kent county is another location where marijuana activists have managed to garner enough signatures to have the legislation brought to the ballot. After missing the ballot in 2021 on behalf of county officials and their error, Kent residents can expect to have this bill proposed to them by this year’s elections.