Ohio Attorney General Rejects Proposed Marijuana Legalization Amendment

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COLUMBUS, OH — Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine has rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana saying the language in the bill was not “fair and truthful” and omitted key information.

The petition for the proposed amendment, the End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012 [sic], was submitted by Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis on August 2, with 2,304 signatures from registered voters, more than double the 1,000 required by law.

In a statement released Monday,  the Attorney General says the issue wasn’t with the signatures submitted, it was with the language of the measure submitted.  DeWine says the summary of the ballot measure was improperly written and omitted key information.

The proposal was rejected for four key reasons, according to the Attorney General’s office:

  • The summary omits references to amendment language which repudiates federal cannabis prohibitions.
  • The summary omits references to amendment language that persons cannot be considered to be under the influence of cannabis “solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of cannabis in his or her body.”
  • The summary states that educational courses may be held by licensed commercial production companies or educational institutions to teach people, among other things, about “medical harms or benefits from the personal use of cannabis products.” However, no such language referencing medical harms or benefits exists in the amendment.
  • The summary omits references to amendment language that confer new duties and responsibilities on the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Commerce.

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine stated in his letter rejecting the petition. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”

Ohio residents will likely have the opportunity to vote on the legalization of medical marijuana and industrial hemp in the November, 2014 midterm election. The Cannabis Rights Amendment, sponsored by the Ohio Rights Group with the help of local grassroots organizations statewide, would authorize the medical use of marijuana by adults 18 years or older (and minors with parental consent) as well as the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state.

The Cannabis Rights Amendment has been approved for the signature gathering phase, and sponsors need to collect 385,253 signatures in at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties by July 3, 2014  in order to place the proposal on the November 2014 ballot.

In order for a constitutional amendment to proceed, an initial petition containing summary language of the amendment and 1,000 signatures from Ohio registered voters must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General. Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board would determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

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