Ohio adult-use marijuana ballot bid falls shy of needed signatures

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Ohio voters might see adult-use marijuana legalization on the November ballot, but campaign organizers have a little more work to do first.

The effort to legalize a recreational market in Ohio has 10 days to find nearly 700 valid signatures to qualify for the fall ballot, state officials said Tuesday.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign submitted more than 223,000 signatures to the Ohio secretary of state earlier this month.

The state declared that only 123,367 signatures were valid, according to a letter from Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent to the campaign.

Under state law, the campaign has another 10 days to find “an additional 679 valid signatures,” LaRose wrote.

That should be simple, Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign, said in a statement.

Finding another 700 voters to sign a petition “is going to be easy, because a majority of Ohioans support our proposal to regulate and tax adult use marijuana,” Haren noted.

Ohio would be the third state to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2023 if the ballot initiative qualifies for the ballot and a majority of voters approve.

Oklahoma voters rejected recreational legalization during a March special election, but lawmakers in Delaware and Minnesota both passed adult-use bills that became law.

Pennsylvania lawmakers recently reintroduced a bipartisan legalization effort that has the support of Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro.

But the measure faces cloudy prospects in a divided state Legislature.

Ohio medical marijuana sales are projected to reach as much as $575 million in 2023, according to the MJBiz Factbook.

The state has licensed 92 dispensaries and 37 cultivators, according to state data.