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Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 7:57 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:35 PM
— Ohio voters could decide in 2018 to legalize marijuana for recreational use if supporters of a constitutional amendment are able to get the issue on the November ballot.
Cincinnati businessman Jimmy Gould and his business partner Ian James of Coumbus, the driving force behind the 2015 marijuana legalization issue that voters rejected by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, are behind a very different plan for 2018.
TAKE OUR POLL:Should Ohio legalize marijuana?
Gould and James are crafting ballot language for a constitutional amendment that would create a free market system for adult consumption of marijuana.
Highlights of the plan:
* Ohioans age 21 and older would be allowed to grow and use marijuana in private;
* commercial growers and sellers would be regulated similar to businesses that produce and sell alcohol;
* using marijuana in public would be prohibited;
* employers would retain the right to have drug free workplace policies and landlords would be allowed to prohibit its production and use on their property;
* operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana would be prohibited;
* local governments would control how many marijuana businesses operate in their community and voter approval would be required for dispensaries in their precincts.
To get on the November ballot, Gould and James need approval of their ballot issue from the attorney general and Ohio Ballot Board and then they’d have to collect 305,592 valid voter signatures by the July 4 deadline.
“Here is what I can assure you: this will be on the ballot. We will get the signatures and we will spend whatever is necessary to spend to get it on the ballot,” Gould said. “We will get the 305,000 signatures, no matter what it costs.
He noted that he and James are the only ones in Ohio to put a marijuana legalization question to the voters.
The two men failed to convince voters in 2015 that their “ResponsibleOhio” plan to grant 10 growing licenses to the investors bankrolling the multi-million dollar campaign was a good idea. But the issue did convince lawmakers that they’d rather adopt a highly regulated medical marijuana program — and write the rules — rather than risk it going to the ballot again.
Do you think Ohio should legalize recreational marijuana? https://t.co/sccKT7Zn4Z— Ohio Politics (@Ohio_Politics) December 10, 2017
Criticism of medical marijuana program
On Monday, Gould delivered a broadside of the Kasich administration over the state’s new medical marijuana program.
Gould and James less than two weeks ago learned their company had been passed over by the Ohio Department of Commerce for one of 12 coveted large-scale cultivator licenses for medical marijuana.
“If we lost in a fair and balanced process then we would accept that. That’s not what happened,” Gould said during an hour-long press conference in downtown Columbus.
In June 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes marijuana use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.
Gould denies that the ballot proposal they are pushing for 2018 is sour grapes for not getting a medical marijuana license.
Still, Gould said that parallel to the ballot issue effort will be a full-scale legal challenge to the commerce department program. He called on Commerce Department Director Jacqueline Williams to step down and he pinned problems with the medical marijuana program on Kasich, who Gould described as an absentee governor.
“This thing has gotten to the point of the obnoxious, disgusting way governments get out of control when there is nobody at home watching the farm. No one,” he said.
Commerce Department spokeswoman Kerry Francis said she isn’t aware of any plans for Williams to resign.
5 things to know about effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio https://t.co/hvTHoGW56w— Ohio Politics (@Ohio_Politics) December 11, 2017
Commerce officials have said they were unaware that Trevor Bozeman, whose company was hired to help score the applications, had been convicted of drug dealing in 2005. Bozeman could not be reached for comment. Applicants were required to undergo extensive background checks — a standard that Gould said should have also been applied to those scoring the proposals.
The 97 applicants who did not win one of the dozen licenses will be notified this week of the appeals process.
The Medical Marijuana Control Program is managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board.
Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses. It is expected to be fully operational by September 2018.
Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law.
Related: Marijuana campaign admits mistakes
Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 10:43 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 12:16 PM
— Dayton Congressman Mike Turner wants California Congressman Darrell Issa deposed in his divorce proceedings, according to POLITICO.
Turner filed for divorce from his wife Majida Mourad after a year and a half of marriage.
Issa was a groomsman at the wedding in Dayton in 2015.
POLITICO says Turner gave Issa a letter in the Capitol last week asking him to give a deposition, according to unnamed sources.
We have reached out to Congressman Turner’s office for a response.
Mourad’s attorney, Sanford Ain, said in a statement to POLITICO Monday that Turner “may have” told “third parties” that she was unfaithful, “thinking it would advantage him in the divorce.” But any claim of infidelity by Mourad “has no basis in fact,” Ain said.
“Because it has been raised, Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful to Congressman Turner during the marriage, before or after Congressman Turner filed for divorce. Any allegation of her being unfaithful to Congressman Turner is simply false and defamatory,” Ain said.
POLITICO reports that Mourad and Issa have been friends for 20 years, but there is nothing more to their relationship, according a a source close to Mourad.
“There is no truth whatsoever to these allegations,” Issa said in a statement.
Turner filed for divorce in May and asked that Mourad be restrained from taking any of their assets, according to a divorce filing made in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
“Ms. Turner is guilty of a fraudulent contract,” according to the filing, which does not elaborate on what that means.
Mourad was a registered lobbyist for the liquid natural gas export company Cheniere Energy Inc.
Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 9:36 AM
Ohio’s governor on Monday ordered flags flown at half-staff around the state to honor two police officers killed over the
weekend in suburban Columbus.
The order from Republican Gov. John Kasich applies to flags at public properties and will be in place until the officers are interred.
The order came hours before police in suburban Westerville were slated to escort the bodies of 39-year-old Eric Joering and 54-year-old Anthony Morelli from a coroner’s office to separate funeral homes. Officials invited the public to line the route.
Westerville police haven’t announced funeral details.
The officers were shot Saturday while responding to a 911 hang-up call at a townhome where the 30-year-old suspect was wounded.
Officials said Sunday that suspect Quentin Smith was hospitalized in stable condition and expected to survive.
He’s charged with aggravated murder. Municipal court records didn’t show an attorney for him.
Smith was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009 on a burglary conviction with an added enhancement of having a gun. He left prison in 2011 and was released from parole, called community control in Ohio, in November 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:17 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 2:47 PM
Columbus — Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor laced into her primary opponent, Mike DeWine, in a 4-minute speech to the Ohio Republican Party state central committee on Friday, calling DeWine a “shill for the entrenched special interests.”
“He’s a career politician who has been on the state ballot in each of the last five decades, and has a liberal voting record as long as the line of babies he has kissed and hands he has shook,” she said. “After 42 years on the public dole, he is soft on protecting your second amendment rights, soft on getting conservative judges appointed, and soft on immigration.”
She warned the Ohio GOP against the DeWine “coronation” and backing a candidate whose “entire campaign is based on the air of inevitability.”
Then she lost the state party endorsement.
The committee voted 59-2 to back DeWine and his running mate Jon Husted. DeWine had no comment on Taylor’s speech, other than to say voters don’t want to hear internal squabbles.
Another fight played out over who would get the endorsement in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate: multi-millionaire business owner and political newcomer Mike Gibbons or multi-millionaire business owner and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth.
Renacci won it with 46 votes while Gibbons earned three votes and Columbus area businesswoman Melissa Ackison received two votes.
Gibbons missed the meeting because he attended a ceremony at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida for his son Ryan Gibbons, who was earning his Naval Aviator wings. Speaking on his behalf was former state lawmaker Joy Padgett who said “Ohio primary voters should determine who the Republican nominee for United States Senate should be…Let the primary process proceed.”
Padgett discounted rumors that the National Republican Senate Committee would only back Renacci in the general election against incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown. Padgett said it is “simply an empty threat. It doesn’t pass the smell test. This is Ohio.”
Renacci, back in Ohio after voting in the early morning hours for a federal budget package, said he has a proven track record of beating incumbent Democrats and asked the 66-member Ohio GOP central committee to back him. “Together we can send Sherrod Brown packing forever,” he said.
Piling up endorsements helps politicos show their strength and the biggest plum is if a candidate can land backing from the state party, which often brings foot soldiers, funding and other logistical support.
Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Murphy Timken, who took over party leadership a year ago with a pledge of not picking winners or losers, said the endorsements were the decision of the committee — not the chair. “From my perspective preventing an endorsement is just as much of tipping the scales as pushing for an endorsement. It was a fair and open process,” she said.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper delighted in the Republican Party’s internal squabbles.
“As DeWine and Taylor trade barbs in the press, the Ohio Republican primary continues to be a nasty, chaotic and divisive race to the extreme right, with the candidates dueling for the blessing of Donald Trump, while running away from John Kasich. Whoever wins this primary will have to deal with the wreckage of a divided Ohio Republican Party,” he said in a written release.
Taylor said recently that DeWine and Husted are out of touch and she wouldn’t vote for DeWine.
The committee also voted to endorse: Dave Yost for attorney general, Keith Faber for auditor, and Frank LaRose for secretary of state. The committee voted to back state Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, over Ashtabula County Republican Sandy O’Brien in the state treasurer’s race.
Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 5:03 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 5:03 PM
— State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, is accusing State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, of lining up another Republican to run against Antani in the May primary in an effort to clear his path for a state Senate run.
“I would hope that his unbridled potlitical ambition isn’t causing him to run a primary opponent against another Republican,” said Antani. “In a year that is traditionally bad for the party that controls the White House — that’s us — we should be focused on beating the Democrats and retaining our majorities instead of ripping other Republicans down.”
Butler called that “a very strange insult coming from someone who has held political jobs his entire adult life and tells everyone he cannot wait to become governor.”
“I did not recruit either of Niraj Antani’s primary opponents,” Butler said. “I think that it is too bad that Niraj Antani apparently thinks that the voters should not have a choice in the May primary election.”
Antani believes Butler is behind the decision by Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah Clark, to file petitions Wednesday to run in the 42nd House seat Antani has held since he was picked by the Montgomery County Republican Party in 2014 to run for the seat after the death of Rep. Terry Blair, R-Washington Twp. Antani had no primary opponent in 2016.
Antani called it it is “unfortunate” that Butler has contributed to the non-profit Commonsense Solutions for Ohio headed by Clark, who is in her ninth year on Miamisburg City Council.
Clark, executive director of the conservative advocacy group, said Butler contributed $12,5oo in seed money to get it started and she made the decision to run against Antani on her own.
“This is political paranoia on the part of Niraj Antani,” said Clark. ” I think he is planning to run for Senate in two years and I think that he thinks that Jim is also planning to run for Senate in two years.”
Butler confirmed that in 2020 he plans to seek the Senate seat now held by term-limited State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. Antani said he is focused on the house race.
Marcus Rech of Miamisburg also filed in the 42nd district Republican primary. Miamisburg residents Zach Dickerson and Autumn J. Kerns filed to run in the Democratic primary, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
The 42nd district includes Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Germantown and part of Centerville, and Washington, Miami and German townships.
Butler has no primary opposition in the 41st district, which includes Kettering, Oakwood and parts of Centerville, Dayton and Riverside. He will face Dayton School Board member John McManus, a Democrat, in November.
Other local statehouse races shaping up
Republican incumbents hold all but one of the Dayton region’s 16 House seats.
The only Democrat is Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, who faces a 39th district Democratic primary challenge from Walter J. Hickman Jr. of Dayton. No Republican filed in the race.
The 39th district includes most of the city of Dayton and Jefferson Twp.
Two Democrats and one Republican filed for the 40th District to replace term-limited State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton.
They include Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, who also is chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, and Democrats Albert Griggs Jr., of Huber Heights and Ryan Taylor of Dayton.
The 40th district includes Huber Heights, Vandalia, Englewood and parts of Dayton, Riverside, Union and Butler and Clay townships
In the 43rd district race Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, is unchallenged in the Democratic primary. Republican voters will choose between Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning and Jeffrey Todd Smith of Germantown.
The 43rd district includes Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships, and all of Preble County.
In Greene County State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, is being challenged by Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the Republican primary for the 73rd district. The winner would face Democrat Kim McCarthy of Xenia.
The 73rd district includes Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Bellbrook and surrounding western Greene County townships.
State Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia is unopposed in the 74th district primary and in November will face the winner of a Democratic primary pitting Anne Gorman of Plain City against Steve W. Key of Wilberforce.
The 74th district includes Xenia, Cedarville and all of eastern Greene County as well as northeastern Clark County and all of Madison County
A crowded field of Republicans will vie in the primary for the chance to challenge write-in Democrat Scott R. Zimmerman of Troy for the seat now held by State. Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, who is running for Ohio Senate.
The Republican primary includes Miami County Commissioner John W. “Bud” O’Brien of Troy, J.D. Winteregg, a Troy man who previously ran for Congress, Jena Powell of Arcanum and George H. Lovett of Tipp City.
The 80th district includes all of Miami County and southern Darke County.
In Warren County, State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason, will face Democrat Nikki Foster of Mason in November in the 54th. State Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, faces Daniel Kroger of Springboro in the 62nd district Republican Party primary. The winner would compete against Democrat Jim Staton of Springboro in November.
Candidates won’t know if they actually make the May 8 primary ballot until the local boards of election certify by Feb. 19 that they have at least 50 valid signatures of registered voters on their nominating petitions.
Republicans hold large majorities in both the Ohio House and the Senate but Democrats are fielding candidates in all 99 House races and hoping to ride a mid-term wave of voter dissatisfaction and regain some seats.
“I always think that recruitment is one of the best signs of a party’s chance to win more elections,” said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton. “Candidates tend to not run if they think they’re going to be unable to win. So if you see all these Democrats running for office that would suggest to me that Democrats in general really think they have a better shot this year.”
Other stories by Lynn Hulsey