Ohio will vote on a proposed law to legalize recreational marijuana in November

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana with a proposed law to regulate it like alcohol on the November 7 ballot.

Marijuana plants at Hepworth Farms in Milton, N.Y.
Marijuana plants at Hepworth Farms in Milton, N.Y. Sixteen percent of Americans say they smoke marijuana, with 48% saying they have tried it at some point in their lives. [Mary Altaffer | AP]
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was short 679 valid signatures when it turned in 222,198 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office last month. It needed 124,046 valid signatures to be certified. The group had 10 days to gather more signatures and submitted more signatures on August 4.

The Secretary of State’s office confirmed on Wednesday that 4,405 of the more than 6,545 signatures that were submitted were valid.

The group has proposed regulating recreational marijuana for Ohioans over 21 who would be permitted to possess 2.5 ounces of pot and grow plants at home. It would also impose a 10% tax to go to addiction treatment, administrative costs and social justice programs.

Download the text of the initiated statute from the secretary of state’s website here.

State lawmakers had four months to act on the proposed law from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. When that deadline expired, the group started gathering signatures for a ballot issue. Because it would be a law, legislators could repeal it if it passes, and there are several Republican lawmakers who have said they’re opposed to marijuana legalization, as is Gov. Mike DeWine. But the group’s spokesman Tom Haren has said he’s confident voters will approve it by a wide margin so there won’t be any attempt at repeal.

Opposition to the proposed statute started coming together before it was certified. The group Protect Ohio Workers and Families includes the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Buckeye Sheriffs Association.

The proposed law would be on the same ballot as a constitutional amendment on reproductive rights and abortion access. With the failure of Issue 1 next week, both the marijuana legalization law and the abortion access amendment will need a simple majority to pass.

The Ohio Ballot Board will have to determine the ballot issue number and the language that voters will see.