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Ohio Senate Leader Rejects Recreational Cannabis Petition

Matt Huffman, Ohio’s state senator president, said that he would not take action on the petition for legalization of recreational marijuana. He also challenged reform advocates who were pushing the idea to make the matter available to the voters during a general election. Huffman was a Republican senator from Ohio who is the leader of GOP-controlled state Senate.

“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 of State) announced that last month the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted petitions with approximately 136,000 signed signatures from registered voters. That is more than enough to allow the Legalization Proposal to be sent to the legislature for consideration. 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.”

A proposal would legalize recreational pot for adults

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.

Also, the measure will impose a 10% tax on marijuana products. This tax will raise revenue that would fund administration of the program. It also shares the revenues with municipalities who allow cannabis dispensaries in their communities. The tax would also be used to fund programs for substance abuse.

Huffman isn’t the only Republican leader in the state to oppose legalizing pot for adult use. 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 for adult use 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 indicated that the House is not likely to approve a bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

“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.”