Ohio Drive to Legalize Medical Marijuana Hits Snag

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Early last week, it seemed Ohio was well on its way to becoming the next state to let voters decide if medical marijuana should be legal. A group of residents submitted a petition with 2,143 signatures from registered voters, the first step in the process of getting the issue on the ballot in 2012. The proposal would allow caregivers to provide patients with up to five ounces of marijuana. It wouldn’t pave the way for full-scale dispensaries, but it would help the overall medical marijuana cause

The effort, however, hit a stumbling block several days later, when Ohio’s attorney general informed the group that the vast majority of the signatures are invalid. Just 534 – or 25 percent – “survived scrutiny by county boards of election,” according to the Toledo Blade. Now, the group has to start the entire process over again and get another 1,000 signatures.

The story didn’t say why the signatures were deemed invalid, but in most cases it’s tyipcally because of incorrect or incomplete information. Sometimes the information is just plain false, or election officials take issue with the way signatures were collected. You can always expect officials to reject at least some signatures. But the number in this case is worrisome. It signals one of two things: An extreme lack of support for medical marijuana or inexperience on the part of organizers.

If gaining 1,000 valid signatures is hard now, it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to hit the next target of 385,245 needed to actually get the proposal on the ballot. It doesn’t look all that good for pot-proponents in Ohio, though perhaps this was just a hiccup. We’ll also have to keep an eye on another group that’s gathering signatures for a petition that calls for regulating medical marijuana like alcohol. That effort likely would lead to the opening of MMJ centers, though it seems a stretch at this point.