Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative (2013)

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An Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative may appear on the 2012 ballot in the state of Ohio as a initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state.

There were rumors that Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, would introduce a measure, but none had been filed yet with the Ohio Attorney General's office as of mid-May, as Lewis was seeking potential proposals.[1]

According to an e-mail from Lewis's attorney, proposals that he was looking for would “describe a clear plan to meet two goals: pass a voter initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio and design, execute and document the campaign in order to create a model for future campaigns in other states.”[2] As of September 2011, Lewis was not known to be involved with either of the current initiatives.[3]

Ohio Medical Cannabis Act

One ballot initiative underway in the state is backed by what organizers say is a "core group of patients" advocating for the use of medical marijuana. The proposal is known as The Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012.

Under the act, if approved, a regulatory system modeled after the Ohio State Liquor Control system would be established. An Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control would also be implemented. Doctor's prescription would be needed to buy the drug, and it would be taxed.[4]

Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment

Another, more restrictive amendment, is known as the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment. It would leave enforcement up to local jurisdictions.[3]

Support

  • According to state resident Cynthia Wynia, marijuana has helped her with her medical issues, stating, "I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stand. I couldn't sit. There's no position you can place yourself in where you're comfortable...A friend of mine offered me some marijuana...It took me a while to realize it. I was getting up and down. I was going up stairs. I was moving around -- dancing. It didn't hurt. I said 'I do not hurt'."[5]

Opposition

  • Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer claimed that the measure "would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community." He also stated a concern with driving under the influence of the drug.[6]
  • Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug-Free Action Alliance, stated, "It's an ever-changing drug, and it's not really a benign drug. It's a drug that we need to look at very carefully that causes a lot of harm to our society. I don't know of any other drug in our repertoire of medications where you take it and you know only what it might do, but you have no idea what the side effects are."[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Ohio signature requirements

Since the measure was filed as an initiated constitutional amendment, the petition drive efforts will need to collect 385,247 signatures in order to place the referendum on the ballot. An initial 1,000 signatures and approval by the Ohio Attorney General are required prior to initiating petition circulation efforts.

Rejections

The Ohio Cannibis Act of 2012 measure was initially rejected by the Ohio Attorney General, as Mike DeWine stated that the measure's supporters did not collect the required amount of initial signatures to be approved for circulation. 1,000 signatures are needed for that approval, however only 534 signatures were valid.[7]

Another attempt at the 1,000 initial signature requirement was submitted in mid-September 2011 by supporters of the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act, the second medical marijuana initiative, with more than 2,300 signatures. According to spokeswoman for the group Theresa Daniello: “We are very, very confident in our signatures, and we’ve validated them to make sure they are successful."[8]

Less than a month after a second attempt was initiated to circulate initiative petitions for the Ohio 2012 ballot, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the attempt failed. Despite collecting sufficient signatures (at least 1,000) to initiate the circulation effort, DeWine explained that supporters failed to properly summarize the ballot language.[9]

A total of 2,365 signatures were submitted on September 7, 2011, 1,344 signatures were valid[10]

Ballot summary errors included: provisions left out of the summary, a misstated section, an included item not stated in the full amendment[10]

Approval of Ohio Medical Cannabis Act

On January 25, 2012, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the second amendment, which is the "Ohio Cannibis Act of 2012". According to the board, the amendment consisted of one issue, thus allowing it to move forward with signature collection for ballot access.[11]

Approval of Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment

The Ohio Ballot Board approved the "Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment" during the week of October 25, 2011, giving supporters the go-ahead to collect signatures for ballot access.[12]

See also

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