Ohio Legalization Group’s Efforts to Be Scrutinized

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The beleaguered campaign to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio now faces yet another challenge.

The Ohio secretary of state has assigned a special prosecutor to look into “suspicious and possibly fraudulent” activity by the group, particularly in regards to its efforts to gather signatures and register voters.

A former county prosecutor will reportedly investigate ResponsibleOhio’s actions, and Secretary of State John Husted said he will subpoena executive director Ian James as well as any relevant records from the group and a company James runs, according to Cincinnati.com.

ResponsibleOhio also turned in another 95,972 signatures on Thursday to get its proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot to legalize the production and sale of marijuana.

The group had gathered twice the number of signatures needed to get the proposal before voters, but the state determined that many were invalid, putting ResonsibleOhio below the required threshold. It had until today to submit an additional 29,509 valid signatures of registered voters.

James said ResponsibleOhio’s records don’t jibe with the state’s and that about 40,000 signatures are unaccounted for, according to Cincinnati.com. The group plans to fight Husted’s office on those as well as 20,000 more that it contends were “improperly invalidated,” according to a statement.

A ResponsibleOhio lawyer said the special prosecutor’s scrutiny is a retaliatory tactic after the group pointed out the missing signatures.

“We brought these very discrepancies to Secretary Husted, and now he’s trying to punish us for pointing them out publicly,” legal counsel Larry James said.