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Ohio Activists Sue GOP Leaders Over Cannabis Legalization Ballot Question

Ohio activists for cannabis have sued Republican legislators, alleging they tried to prevent a marijuana legalization ballot question being presented before the voters during the November general elections. On Friday, members of Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol sued the House Speaker Bob Cupp as well as the Senate President Matt Huffman. The action alleges that legislative leaders improperly try to delay the ballot question to next year.

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol proposed that Ohioans 21 years and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces or 15 grams of cannabis concentrates. A maximum of six adult cannabis plants would be allowed at home.

Also, the measure will levy 10% sales tax on cannabis products. All cannabis tax revenue would go to the administration of the program as well as to municipalities and towns that host cannabis dispensaries. The taxes would be used to fund programs for substance abuse and social equity, as well as a program that provides jobs and supports job opportunities.

There are more than 135,000 signed petitions to legalize cannabis in Ohio

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alchohol filed petitions that had more than 200,000 signatures by the end of 2013. This is significantly more than what was required to send the bill to legislators for consideration. But in January, the secretary of state’s office announced that less than 120,000 of the signatures had been verified as registered voters.

The activists then provided nearly 30,000 more signatures for state officials to verify. These signatures were sufficient to reach the minimum threshold, as stated in a late January letter sent by Frank LaRose (Ohio Secretary of State)

“The initial part-petitions contained 119,825 valid signatures on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative of the total signatures submitted, signatures from 51 counties were submitted that met or exceeded 1.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in the respective counties at the last gubernatorial election,” Larose wrote in a letter posted online by Northeast Ohio Media Group.

“The additional part-petitions contained 16,904 valid signatures on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative,” he continued. “I hereby certify that the part-petitions contained a total of 136,729 valid signatures submitted on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative petition.”

Republican Lawmakers Question the Timeliness for Petition

Ohio law states that signatures must be submitted at least 10 business days in advance of the session. The lawmakers have then four months to decide on the matter. Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol signed the petition on January 28. This would mean that lawmakers have a May 28 deadline to respond to it.

Lawyers for GOP lawmakers have claimed that petitions must be approved and submitted 10 days prior to the commencement of legislation. This interpretation meant that legalization activists did not meet the deadline. It led legislative leaders to say the petition won’t be considered for consideration until 2023. According to emails filed with the campaign’s lawsuit filed in Franklin County on Friday, Attorney General Dave Yost’s office seemed to agree with the GOP legal counsel’s analysis.

The lawsuit by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol contends that the submission of signatures to LaRose’s office on January 28 fulfilled the legal deadline for the legalization petition. This legal action seeks to have the court declare that the campaign has followed the procedure and allow the legalization of cannabis to proceed this year. If the lawsuit is granted, the activists will have until July to gather additional signatures in order to qualify for the November general elections.

According to a report by, LaRose’s spokesperson declined to comment about the legal proceedings. The Columbus Dispatch.The newspaper asked for clarifications from Huffman’s and Cupp’s spokespersons, but they did not respond immediately.