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Ohio Senate Leader Rejects Medical Cannabis Petition

Matt Huffman of Ohio, the president of the state Senate, stated last week that the Ohio legislature would not consider a petition seeking legalization for recreational cannabis. Huffman is a powerful Republican legislator in Ohio, and the head of the GOP-controlled Ohio state Senate. He said that he wouldn’t bring up the proposal for legalizing adult use cannabis, sponsored by Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, to a vote.

“I don’t want anybody to misunderstand my position,” Huffman said, as quoted by the Columbus Dispatch. “I’m not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it.”

Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary, announced last month that petitions submitted by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol contained approximately 136,000 signatures. This was more than enough to submit the proposal for legalization to legislators. Ohio law gave the state legislature the option of passing an amended or adopting the current measure. They had four months from then to do so. 

If lawmakers fail to do so, the campaign can collect another 132,887 signatures to bring the proposal to voters via a ballot measure for this year’s general election. Tom Haren, the campaign’s spokesperson, asked state lawmakers to authorize recreational marijuana legalization. The proposal was submitted to the legislature after LaRose declared on January 28th that enough signatures had been collected.

“We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio,” Haren said in a statement. “We are also fully prepared to collect additional signatures and take this issue directly to voters on November 8, 2022, if legislators fail to act.”

Proposed Law Would Legalize Adult Recreational Pot

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s proposal would allow adults aged 21 or older to legalize the possession and purchase of up to 2.5 ounces and 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. A maximum of six adult cannabis plants would be allowed at home.

A 10% tax would be imposed on all cannabis products. The tax revenue would go towards the administration and sharing with cities that allow dispensaries to open in their areas. The tax would also be used to fund programs for substance abuse.

Huffman doesn’t represent the only GOP state leader who has publicly opposed legalization of pot for adults. Republican Governor Mike DeWine campaigned in opposition to a state legalization ballot for recreational cannabis. In 2015 as the state attorney general, he said that he will veto any bill authorizing adult use of cannabis.

“No, I think that’s a mistake,” DeWine said. “I think you change the culture, and you send a signal to kids … If it’s legal, every kid, the message is, it’s okay.”

House Majority Leader Bill Seitz stated that it is unlikely that any bill to legalize recreational marijuana, which was introduced by other Republicans, will be passed.

“I have not read the bill, but I am doubtful it could pass,” said Seitz. “My own bipartisan bill to allow medical marijuana for autism spectrum treatment still hasn’t even made it out of committee, and this newly proposed bill is a giant leap beyond that one.”

Haren said that he believes Republicans have declined to bring the campaign’s proposal up for a vote because they fear it will succeed.

“I sort of suspect that the reason folks in leadership are saying they don’t want to bring our proposal to the floor is that they suspect it will pass if it gets to the floor,” he said. “Otherwise, there would be no concern.”