For Ohio to join the growing number of states that have legalised recreational marijuana use for anyone over 21, state lawmakers need to act quickly. The group that brought the initial bill to the legislature has threatened to take the matter to the voters this coming November if they do not take action within the next several months.
On January 3, 2019, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol introduced a bill to the incoming Ohio General Assembly. Tom Haren, a spokesman for the group, has stated that if the Ohio legislature does not pass the proposal by the beginning of May, the subject will be put to the voters in November.
Haren estimated that with another 150,000 petition signatures, the group would be successful.
Haren claims he has not discussed the idea with any members of the present General Assembly.
Many senators are already on the record as being firmly against the idea of authorising marijuana sales and use in Ohio outside of the state’s existing medicinal marijuana programme.
There was an effort in the last General Assembly to broaden that programme. But Haren said reform in that programme simply won’t satisfy his coalition if lawmakers just adjust the present medicinal marijuana programme to relax usage.
“The medical programme obviously needs some adjustments but we are committed to putting in place a robust adult use programme to complement the present medicinal marijuana programme,” Haren added.
Haren’s group secured an arrangement with Republican lawmakers last May that kept the issue off the November 2022 ballot and allowed it to go forward this year using petition signatures that had already been collected.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is expected to be able to draw financing from national sources to assist wage a ballot campaign.
Twenty-one states have legalised marijuana to enable sales and usage. Neighboring Michigan is among them. Marijuana sales there in the fiscal year 2021 totalled more than $1.1 billion in income, with the state raking in more than $111 million from the 10% sales tax.
The idea Haren has put out calls for sales to be authorised in at least half of the state’s 88 counties, but there is no certainty as to how much revenue legal marijuana sales in Ohio would generate.