Ohio Group Claims Sabotage in Legalization Efforts

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An Ohio organization pushing for medical marijuana legalization in the state says a stronger, more well-funded group sabotaged its efforts to get a bill on the November ballot.

The Ohio Rights Group (ORG) claims that ResponsibleOhio members Ian James and David Bruno promised to help ORG but instead took consulting fees from the group to build their own organization, according to Cincinnati.com.

ORG claims in a complaint filed earlier this month that ResponsibleOhio’s actions undermined its ability to raise funds, retain volunteers and motivate staff, thereby “crippling the advancement” of the group’s ballot initiative.

The Ohio Elections Commission will have a hearing on the issue May 21. Both groups are currently raising signatures to get marijuana legalization measures on the ballot.

Bruno, while working with ORG, allegedly made trips across the state, visiting people now associated with ResponsibleOhio. He also changed names on an informational document sent to the president of Scotts Miracle-Gro, who was being asked for a $1 million donation, according to ORG.

A ResponsibleOhio spokesperson told Cincinnati.com the complaint is “bogus.” The group, which formed last June, boasts backers that include descendants of former U.S. President William Taft, developer David Bastos and singer and restaurateur Nick Lachey.

ORG’s proposed constitutional amendment would allow patients in Ohio to use medical marijuana and growers to produce industrial hemp. ResponsibleOhio’s plan would allow 10 farms to produce medical and recreational cannabis to sell to processors and retailers, a move that ORG says would create an agricultural monopoly, according to Cincinnati.com.