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Proposal to Legalize Cannabis Heads to Ohio Legislature

After more than 200,000 signatures, the proposal for legalizing cannabis in Ohio is headed back to Congress.

Ohio’s activists have submitted petitions with 206,943 signatures to Secretary of State this week in order for him to verify that they are supporting a plan to legalize adult use and possession of marijuana.

Once the verification is done, “lawmakers will have four months to act on the legislation,” the Columbus Dispatch reported, and if they fail to pass the bill or an amended version, “supporters can collect another 132,887 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot for the next general election.”

It Dispatch reported that the proposal “would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates,” and that they “could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.”

Cannabis products “would be taxed 10 percent, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity and jobs program,” according to the newspaper.

The group behind the legalization effort is the “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.”

“Marijuana legalization is an issue whose time has come in Ohio. According to recent polling, Ohioans are not only in favor of legalizing marijuana for regulated adult-use, they view it as inevitable,” the coalition says on its website. “We hope that Ohio’s leaders seize this opportunity to take control of our future. Support for a regulatory and taxation system is critical in order to set Ohio up for success should we see changes at the federal level.”

The group says its campaign is “an effort to encourage Ohio legislators to regulate marijuana for adult-use, just like we do for alcohol,” and to advance a proposal that would fix “a broken system while ensuring local control, keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and benefiting everyone.”

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Ohio Plans to Legalize

In the summer of 2010, the Coalition to Regulate Medical Marijuana like Alcohol drafted the bill and started collecting signatures. 

The Dispatch reported that this campaign is different from the one waged in 2015, “when voters rejected a constitutional amendment pushed by ResponsibleOhio that would have paved the way for adult marijuana use.”

Additionally, the latest legalization proposal would grandfather the state’s medical cannabis businesses into the newly created recreational market, according to the Columbus Dispatch. 

Ohio’s medical cannabis program may already be on the cusp of a significant overhaul. Last week, the state Senate passed a bill which would bring about the first major changes in the program’s history since its creation five years ago. 

Most notably, the legislation would permit physicians in the state to “recommend marijuana for treatment for any condition if the physician, in the physician’s sole discretion and medical opinion, finds either of the following”: that the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana” and “that the patient may otherwise reasonably be expected to benefit from medical marijuana.”

The state House of Representatives is considering the bill. It would add painkillers, opioid abuse disorder and hospice care to the qualifying conditions that allow medical cannabis treatments.

Currently, cannabis treatment may be recommended for the following qualifying conditions: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Cancer; Chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn’s disease; Epilepsy or another seizure disorder; Fibromyalgia; Glaucoma; Hepatitis C; Inflammatory bowel disease; Multiple sclerosis; Pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable; Parkinson’s disease; Positive status for HIV; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Sickle cell anemia; Spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; Traumatic brain injury, and Ulcerative colitis.

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