Measure to Sink Ohio Cannabis Legalization Effort Passes House

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Correction: The initial version of this story incorrectly reported that the measure to prevent monopolies will appear on the November ballot, when in fact the initiative must still get approval from the Senate.

A measure that could derail a group’s attempt to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio sailed through the state House and now moves to the Senate.

The measure, which passed the Ohio House 81-12, would make it more difficult to pass constitutional amendments that effectively create monopolies, the Toledo Blade reported.

The proposal must clear the Legislature with a three-fifths majority before Aug. 5 to appear on the November ballot, according to the Associated Press.

If the measure gets onto the ballot and voters support it, the hastily written and discussed proposal may override ResponsibleOhio’s legalization amendment – which would license only 10 growers, a move lawmakers say doesn’t allow for enough competition.

ResponsibleOhio is expected to file paperwork on July 1 to also get its measure on the November ballot.

If both measures are put before voters, Ohioans could see electoral fireworks that are usually reserved for presidential campaign years.

Some political pundits have said the lawmakers’ bill would overrule the legalization measure if both initiatives pass. Others said that may not be the case, and that the issue would end up in court.

Legislators who introduced the anti-monopoly bill have said they don’t want the state’s medical marijuana program to look like its casino industry, where only a small number of wealthy groups control the entire market.

ResponsibleOhio leaders, who’ve raised more than $36 million, said the proposal is political, and nothing more than a “temper tantrum” by lawmakers who are hoping to make a name for themselves ahead of future elections. While the legalization bill would severely limit the number of cultivators, it would allow more than 1,100 dispensaries.