Petition to place marijuana on ballot

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Of the 695,273 petition signatures turned in by ResponsibleOhio calling for placing the issue of legalizing marijuana on the November 2015 ballot, 2,696 of those signatures came from citizens of Scioto County.

On Tuesday of last week, ResponsibleOhio delivered those petition signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to qualify for the November 2015 ballot. On Monday this week, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office certified the petition for the Fresh Start Act, a proposed initiated statute.

On June 24, the Attorney General’s Office received a written petition for an initiated statute, entitled “Fresh Start Act,” from the group ResponsibleOhio. The submission was certified on Monday as containing both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed law.

“I am so proud of the hard work and dedication our team has shown in gathering this many signatures,” ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James said. “With Tuesday’s filing, ResponsibleOhio took the last critical step toward qualifying for the November 2015 ballot. We look forward to continuing our conversation with voters about the urgency of marijuana reform, the critical need to offer patients access to medical marijuana and the thousands of jobs that will be created by legalizing marijuana.”

ResponsibleOhio projects that by the time the legal marijuana market stabilizes in 2020, Scioto County and its municipal governments will receive a total of $3,201,997 in new tax revenue each year should the amendment pass. The group projects $554 million in tax revenue statewide.

According to ResponsibleOhio, projections show the marijuana industry in Ohio will create ample opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment, with around 10,000 jobs predicted statewide. That organization says Ohioans will have the opportunity to own and operate one of the state’s 1,150 retail stores or additional medical dispensaries, testing labs or product manufacturing facilities. There will be new employment opportunities at these facilities and at each of the state’s 10 growing facilities.

“Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred … I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law,” DeWine said in his certification letter.

Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the proposal contains a single law or multiple laws. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each proposed law from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 1.5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 3 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Once signatures are verified by the Ohio Secretary of State, the Ohio General Assembly has four months to act upon the proposed law. If the proposal is not passed, the petitioners have an opportunity to gather the same number of signatures to have the proposal placed on the ballot.

ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Amendment will legalize marijuana for medical use and personal use by adults 21 years of age and older.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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