Group pushing for ballot issue to legalize marijuana in Ohio

Another push to ask Ohio voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use emerged Monday when a group filed initial paperwork with the state attorney general’s office.

“Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” submitted petition wording, the first step of many to qualify for the statewide ballot.

The proposal would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older; allow home growing of up to six plants, including three mature flowering plants; allow individuals to possess up to one ounce; and require the state to regulate the industry substantially like it does alcohol. It would prohibit public use and private property owners would be allowed to prohibit use.

Attorney General Dave Yost has 10 days to determine if the petition wording is fair and accurate. If Yost clears it, the matter goes to the Ohio Ballot Board for a ruling on whether it covers a single issue.

If the group clears those two hurdled, then it faces the enormous and costly task of collecting 442,958 valid voter signatures from at least 44 of 88 counties by July 1 to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

Ohio voters last weighed in on legalizing marijuana in November 2015 when they rejected a constitutional amendment that would have designated 10 investor-owned growing areas. State Issue 3, the ResponsibleOhio plan, was defeated in a stunning landslide 65 percent to 35 percent on Nov. 3, 2015. It was opposed by business, health, civic and political leaders as well as pro-pot advocates.

RELATED: Buddie, limiting grow areas mistakes of failed marijuana issue, leader says

Ohio lawmakers crafted a legal medical marijuana law in 2016 and the first dispensaries opened in January 2019.

Three other groups are attempting to collect signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot:

— Secure and Fair Elections is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow same day voter registration and voting, automatic voter registration and 28 days of early voting.

— Raise the Wage Ohio is a proposed constitutional amendment to increase the state minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2025.

— Ohioans for Legislative Term Limits seeks to change the 1992 voter-approved term limits on lawmakers from eight consecutive years in the same chamber to 16 years.

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