State Watch

Marijuana legalization won’t make Ohio ballot after deal with state officials

State officials and a group backing efforts to legalize marijuana in Ohio reached a deal on Thursday, agreeing to let the organization retain the signatures they have already collected on the effort while delaying their campaign until 2023.

Under the terms of the deal, the organization supporting marijuana legalization efforts in the state, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, will be allowed to keep over 140,000 signatures it received to put the issue before the state legislature if it delays its campaign until 2023.

Under Ohio law, if citizens can gather 132,887 Ohio registered voters’ signatures from a minimum of 44 counties, Ohio legislators can be forced to consider a proposal in amending existing Ohio law by the public through what is known as an initiated statute, according to Cleveland.com

That proposal can land on the state’s ballot during the November elections if those behind the campaign received the same number of signatures and if the lawmakers, who were forced to take up the measure, did not make the statue into law within four months, Cleveland.com reported.

House Republicans in the state said they would not be considering the campaign, arguing that its signatures had been submitted past the deadline, prompting the backers of the campaign to file a lawsuit.

The campaign was hampered after tens of thousands of signatures that were tossed out by state officials and it missed the deadline to supplement the rest needed to put the issue before lawmakers, according to Cleveland.com.

Tom Haren, one of the petitioners, signaled they approved of their settlement with the state. 

“We are delighted to have reached this settlement, which has preserved our initial signatures, provided the General Assembly with a second opportunity to consider the proposed statute, and established a clear path to ballot access in 2023. To be certain: we aren’t going anywhere and are undeterred in our goal to legalize cannabis for all adults in Ohio,” he said in a statement.

Updated at 10:47 p.m.

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