State And Regional

Statewide initiative to legalize marijuana will be on Ohio ballots in November

COLUMBUS — A statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana will be on the Nov. 7 ballot, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday through a letter that announced the success of the citizen-led campaign’s signature gathering process.

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The news about the marijuana initiative means that question will join an abortion-rights amendment proposal on the November ballot.

Ohioans pushed for both questions through the state’s initiated petition process, which allows citizens to trigger a statewide vote on policy without Ohio General Assembly approval.

If a simple majority of voters pass the marijuana ballot initiative, the measure will add a section to the Ohio Revised Code that would outline how marijuana sales and consumption will be regulated throughout Ohio.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted an additional 6,459 signatures in support of an initiated statute legalizing the adult use of marijuana to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office on Aug. 3. Local boards of elections determined that 4,405 of the additional signatures were valid.

“We are grateful to the thousands of Ohioans who helped us get to this point and are excited to bring our proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol before Ohio voters this coming Election Day,” CRMLA spokesman Tom Haren said in a prepared statement.

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Protect Ohio Workers and Families, which identifies as a broad coalition of Ohioans who oppose efforts to legalize the recreational use and retail sales of marijuana, said passing the initiative would bring risks.

“Expanding access to this addictive drug brings even more risks to Ohioans, especially for employers who prioritize a safe workplace but already struggle to find workers who can pass a drug test,” Angela Phillips, CEO of Phillips Tube and a member of the organization’s steering committee, said in a prepared statement.

“Is bringing new risks and costs to employers really worth it, just so some people can use marijuana whenever they want? This is bad for Ohio’s families, workers and economy,” Phillips said.

In 2015, 63.4 percent of Ohio voters rejected an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana use. The amendment would have created a marijuana cultivation monopoly for 10 select growers in the state.

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