A national group of marijuana activists has announced a plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio after the state’s current medical marijuana program expires. The announcement by the Marijuana Policy Project comes after Ohio’s medical marijuana program was set to expire on June 30. The group says it will now instead push for the legalization of marijuana for all, with the hopes that the change will help push for a more progressive policy for the state in the future.
Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana has brought the state’s medical cannabis community together, but activists are now preparing to push to legalize the plant for recreational purposes, too.
A group attempting to regulate marijuana in Ohio has shifted its position on the issue.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said on Tuesday that instead of a constitutional amendment, which was the initial goal, it would attempt to pass a state legislation.
“We want to regulate marijuana for adult use in the same way that we control alcohol “In a statement, the group’s spokesperson, Tom Haren, stated. “Our plan corrects a flaw in the system while maintaining local authority, keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, and benefitting everyone.”
On Tuesday, the group presented their proposal to the Ohio attorney general’s office, along with more than 1,000 signatures. The summary proposal has ten days to be reviewed by the AG.
To get the proposal before the Ohio Legislature, the organization would need to gather 132,887 signatures from registered Ohio voters.
After then, lawmakers would have four months to either approve, reject, or modify the measure.
If the measure is not passed in its current form, the organization claimed it would gather additional 132,887 signatures to put the issue on the November 2022 ballot in Ohio.
To individuals aged 21 and above, the proposed legislation would legalize marijuana use, production, manufacture, testing, and sale. It also permits for the cultivation of up to six plants per individual and a total of twelve plants per household.
The tax may generate $400 million in revenue each year. It would be given to:
• $150 million, or around 36% of the total, will go to social justice and employment creation.
• $150 million, or around 36%, to dispensary-hosting municipalities.
• $104 million, or almost a quarter of a billion dollars, for addiction treatment and education.
• $12 million, or around 3%, to the Division of Cannabis Control (the department in charge of regulating the business).
The whole proposal may be seen here.
State Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville, said he had not read the full plan but would oppose the state legislation. Kick, who was elected in 2016, serves parts of Ashland, Medina, and Holmes counties.
“I’m not sure whether we truly know what the long-term consequences are,” he added.
He said he still supports medicinal marijuana, but he’s received feedback from business owners and politicians in places where recreational marijuana is allowed.
“They tell you not to do it.’ But, if I were a betting man, whether I support it or not, it would very certainly pass. I’m not sure when that will happen. But, at this moment, I’d vote no on recreational marijuana in Ohio,” he added.
Ohio tried to legalize recreational marijuana via a constitutional amendment in 2015. Although the attempt was unsuccessful, it cleared the way for the state’s medicinal marijuana program.
Ohio has had medical marijuana laws in place since 2016.
There are now 34 licensed growers, 58 licensed dispensaries, 47 preliminary processing licenses, and 9 provisional testing licenses. According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board, there are 215,874 registered patients and 650 physicians who may prescribe marijuana for 25 medical illnesses.
Since April 2019, the program has supervised sales of $471.2 million.
Critics of the state’s medicinal marijuana program claim it is excessively costly, difficult to manage, and has limited participation due to limitations.
Kick says he hasn’t heard of any plans to reform the program on the horizon and that he’d have to “see the legislation” before deciding whether or not to support it.
The declaration comes in the wake of a government push to legalize marijuana. On July 14, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden presented the first draft of a measure.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act includes provisions such as descheduling cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, expunging previous convictions, allowing individuals to apply for resentencing, and preserving state control over marijuana policy.
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