On Monday, marijuana reform advocates in Ohio filed a motion to put a marijuana legalization bill on the 2020 ballot for the voters to decide.
The measure, which is referred to as Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, would permit people aged 21 and above to purchase, possess, and cultivate marijuana for personal use. However, possession of cannabis would be limited at one ounce, and individuals would be allowed to cultivate a maximum of six plants, out of which three could be mature.
The petition to put marijuana legalization on the November ballot was filed with the state attorney general a week after it was reported for the first time. The office of the attorney general has ten days to certify the language.
The legislation stipulates that the regulation of the marijuana market and issuing of permits to marijuana businesses would be the responsibility of the Department of Commerce in Ohio.
The bill also authorizes the legislature to impose a special excise tax on all marijuana sales. Twenty-five percent of the tax proceeds would be allotted to the commission whose work is to promote social equity in the marijuana sector. Fifty-percent of the tax revenue would assigned to the State Local Government Fund, and ten percent would divided amongst the jurisdictions that allow marijuana businesses to operate.
During the 2020 elections, the voters would also decide whether through enactment of an ordinance, initiated or referred measure municipalities and towns within the state would be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses from operating within their region.
The legislation also has a provision aimed at enhancing social equity where the Department of Commerce would be allowed to research to determine whether in the past there was discrimination when the department was issuing marijuana-related permits, as well as whether the effects of the war on drugs has prevented minorities from participating in the medical marijuana industry in Ohio.
In a press release, Tom Haren, the general counsel for the marijuana reform campaign, said that marijuana consumption should be allowed for adults.
For the petition to qualify for 2020, the advocates must gather about 443,000 signatures from registered voters within the state by July 1. The campaign for signature gathering will require extensive funding because of the vast size of Ohio and the fact that the initiative was launched late in the election year.
Since 2015, support for marijuana legalization has increased within Ohio.
The petition committee is comprised of a former NFL player, patients’ advocates, and a mental health specialist.
Anthony Riley, who is a member of the committee, said that for many years, people of color had been the primary targets for marijuana prohibition in Ohio as well as the sick, disabled, and the poor have been mistreated when they tried replacing opioid prescriptions with medical marijuana.
These activists now feel that voters should be given the chance to decide whether recreational marijuana should be legalized in the state or not. Industry watchers believe that cannabis companies like SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) will be following events in Ohio closely to see whether the legalization advocates can pull off the signature gathering exercise in the limited time that they have left.
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