Ohio to Vote on Marijuana Legalization

Now the real campaign begins.

On Wednesday, state election officials certified a proposal to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis, meaning residents will vote on the measure this November.

ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the measure, initially fell short of the 305,591 signature threshold needed to get the proposal on ballot. Although it turned in roughly 700,000 signatures, nearly 400,000 were deemed invalid.

The group was given another 10 days to make up the shortfall, and it submitted another 95,000 signatures. The finally tally: Ohio election officials verified 320,000 signatures, well above the required number.

The measure is a mixed bag. It would legalize both medical cannabis and recreational marijuana at once, which would set a new first for the industry. The initiative would also allow for more than 1,100 recreational shops and an undetermined number of MMJ dispensaries.

But it would also allow just 10 legal cultivation sites, to be controlled by major campaign donors.

That has angered a lot of political players, and opponents now range from other cannabis activists to the Ohio Libertarian Party to talking heads who rail against the measure as creating a marijuana monopoly.

An April poll by Quinnipiac University found that while 84% of Ohio voters support legalizing MMJ, only 52% are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis. That, combined with the typical low turnout in off-off-year elections such as this year’s, mean that ResponsibleOhio probably has an uphill battle in front of it.