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Ohio marijuana ballot initiative leader says group has enough signatures for November ballot


A ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio faces a key deadline Wednesday.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol must get about 125,000 signatures of support to be placed on the November ballot. Those signatures need to be submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State by Wednesday.

Tom Haren, an attorney with the coalition, says the group has gathered about 220,000 signatures, which is almost 100,000 more than are needed.

Haren is confident about the ballot initiative's chances at passing.

"We expect that our proposal is going to pass with a mandate from Ohio voters that we want to follow in the footsteps of the other half of the United States that have legalized and regulated marijuana since 2013," Haren said.

If passed, the ballot question would legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth and use of marijuana for adults 21 or older. It would also create a 10% tax on the drug.

The initiative would also legalize home grow for Ohioans ages 21 and up with a limit of six plants per person and 12 plants per residence.

Haren said the group has spent time validating the signatures to make sure the group has enough, even if some are invalidated by the state as it reviews signatures.

Unlike another initiative set to be on ballots this November asking voters whether to enshrine abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution, this ballot question is an initiated statute. A statute passed by voters directly amends the Ohio Revised Code and could be changed by the Ohio General Assembly, unlike a constitutional amendment.

Haren said he wants voters to approve this measure over action he anticipates from President Joe Biden's administration to de-schedule the drug. Haren said Ohio should have a framework for regulations in place before this is done.

He said he doesn't expect the Ohio General Assembly to attempt to block the law if it passes.

"This is popular here in Ohio. And more importantly, it's really good policy," Haren said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.