Multiple efforts cloud attempts to legalize marijuana in Ohio

For the second year in a row, Ohio citizens could be voting on a constitutional amendment relating to marijuana.

Each of the three attempts to pass marijuana legalization attempt to differentiate themselves from Issue 3, an amendment that, while well funded, was rejected by voters in 2015.

There are currently three efforts to legalize the use of marijuana within the state. Two of the three deal solely with medical marijuana and one would result in legal recreational use. However, the group Legalize Ohio 2016 has proposed an amendment that attempts to deal with medical marijuana, personal use, and industrial hemp as one issue.

If passed, those who are prescribed medical marijuana would be able to use the drug with no age restrictions, given parental approval. It would also allow patients to grow the herb at home with up to 12 mature plants.

Those over the age of 21 would be able to use marijuana and possess roughly a quarter pound.

The amendment would also allow anyone to grow marijuana at home. A person could have as many as six mature plants in their home without a license.

The amendment would also allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, and the crops would be regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The second potential amendment to the state constitution is being supported by Marijuana Policy Project, a national marijuana advocacy group. It is solely a medical marijuana initiative that would be designed to mirror the medical marijuana laws in other states and would include both retail locations to purchase marijuana and home growing for those with a valid prescription.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Marijuana Policy Project led successful recreational marijuana initiative efforts in Colorado and Alaska and medical marijuana measures in Michigan, Montana and Arizona. The organization has also worked with state legislatures to write medical marijuana laws.

The third proposed effort in the state is also focused on legalizing medical marijuana; however, this group is not attempting to take the issue before the voters.

Three Colorado lobbyists — Gray McGinnis, Collon Kennedy, and Phillip Hayes — lead ARC Reaction, they’ve added Democrat Aaron Pickrell, who was a senior policy advisor in the Strickland administration, Republican Mike Hartley, who served as a senior staffer in the Kasich administration, and Democrat Steven Stenberg, a Washington, D.C.-based direct mail and political strategist for Ohio Experience, according to articles in the Dayton Daily News and the Plain Dealer.

The group is attempting to work with the state legislature to pass a state law supporting the use of medical marijuana. These three individuals are involved in the marijuana industry and have supported an initiative that passed in Washington.

ARC Reaction is looking for investors willing to contribute $300,000 for their efforts, according to the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio.

Issue 3 was defeated with more than 63 percent of voters against it. This bill would have made marijuana legal in Ohio with anyone over the age of 21 able to purchase up to one ounce but was criticized even by some who supported the legalization of marijuana because it would have created an exclusive list of 10 facilities with exclusive rights to grow the crop in perpetuity.

Those against the exclusivity in the bill created a competing initiative that made the type of monopoly suggested by issue 3 illegal in Ohio. The anti-monopoly legislation that was put on the ballot by the state’s legislature narrowly passed with just more than 51 percent of the vote.

Those involved with state government understand marijuana issues aren’t going away. Most of the state’s politicians, however, are focused on medical marijuana at this time.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, a Boardman Democrat, stated in an article with the Sandusky Register that the legislation needs to act on medical marijuana to stop the flood of ballot initiatives that are being proposed.

The legal aspects lead into several stories about how potential influences of marijuana legalization including economic and law enforcement issues. In addition those supporting the bill continue to debate the issue on social media.

Anyone who is interested in the issue of marijuana legalization should either comment on this story or on Twitter using the #marijuanaohio2016.


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Burton Speakman
Burton Speakman is a Ph.D candidate at Ohio University. He worked in the newspaper industry for 13 years as a reporter and editor.

Burton Speakman

Burton Speakman is a Ph.D candidate at Ohio University. He worked in the newspaper industry for 13 years as a reporter and editor.

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