Ohio recreational cannabis ballot initiative clears key hurdle

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A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use marijuana in Ohio has cleared an initial hurdle after winning approval from the state’s top attorney.

But the initiative isn’t expected to be on the ballot until November 2019.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Thursday certified the Marijuana Rights and Regulations amendment, led by Ohio Families for Change, after rejecting the first version last month.

Once the initiative is approved by the bipartisan Ballot Board, Ohio Families for Change can begin to collect the 305,591 signatures needed.

Ohio Families for Change spokesman Jonathan Varner indicated to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that there’s not enough time to make the July 4 deadline for this year’s ballot, so the group is aiming for the 2019 November election.

Here are some details from the proposed amendment:

  • The Legislature would have the authority to develop regulations for various aspects of the industry such as licensing.
  • Municipalities could put in place zoning restrictions, with businesses lawfully located only in precincts where a majority of residents had voted in favor of the amendment.
  • There would be an initial residency requirement of two years for marijuana businesses.
  • Adults 21 and older would be allowed to cultivate, possess, use, sell, share and transport cannabis.

Separately, Ohio is rolling out a medical marijuana industry, with limited sales expected to begin as early as this fall.