ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative Rejected, But They Will Try Again

On February 13, 2015, ResponsibleOhio submitted a petition to add the “Medical Marijuana and Personal Use Amendment” to Ohio’s constitution, along with a summary of the proposed amendment, to the Ohio Attorney General.  The AG is tasked with determining whether the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment. The summary must be accurate because eventually hundreds of thousands of voters will be asked to read it and sign petitions to get the legalization initiative on the statewide ballot. On Monday, February 23, the AG found that ResponsibleOhio’s summary was not fair and truthful and rejected ResponsibleOhio’s proposal.

The AG provided a few examples of how the summary deviated from the amendment itself.  The summary stated it would be lawful for a person over the age of 21 to purchase, possess, and use marijuana.  However, the proposed amendment would allow those persons to share marijuana with other 21 year olds, as well. There were also significant differences between the summary and the language in the proposed amendment with regard to distribution of taxes from marijuana.

ResponsibleOhio intends to make changes and resubmit its proposal to the AG.  The group only needs 1,000 signatures from registered voters to do so.  AG certification is only the first step on the path to the statewide ballot this November, however.  Eventually, ResponsibleOhio will have to collect over 300,000 signatures in support of its initiative, and those signatures must be filed by July.

As we learned on our Road to Prosperity Summer Tour, employers across the state already face significant obstacles related to hiring, including the inability of candidates to pass a drug test in addition to finding skilled and qualified workers.  Many employers are already involved in community efforts to combat these issues. Ohio’s employers are concerned about the effect legalization might have on hiring procedures, specifically drug testing, and generally about their ability to maintain a safe, drug-free workplace.

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