The most serious effort to legalize marijuana via ballot initiative in our state’s history ran into a significant road block yesterday as Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office reported that the group is nearly 30,000 valid signatures short of the amount necessary to get the measure on the November ballot. The group, ResponsibleOhio, now has 10 days to collect the difference in valid signatures.
ResponsibleOhio turned in 695,273 signatures to be certified by the Secretary of State. On Monday, Secretary Husted stated that his office validated just 276,082. This number is 29,509 signatures short of the 305,591 required to get on the ballot. Of the signatures turned in by ResponsibleOhio, only 40% were valid. If ResponsibleOhio repeats their initial performance in collecting valid signatures over the next 10 days, they will need to collect nearly 75,000 signatures to get to the roughly 30,000 that they are lacking. That is an average of 7,500 signatures per day until July 30th. Additionally, ResponsibleOhio claims that thousands of signatures were invalidated in Lucas and Hamilton Counties for reasons that were either undisclosed or not made clear, and ResponsibleOhio believes they should have been counted or at least reviewed and not simply rejected. They will be taking their case to the Ohio Supreme Court later this month to try and have these signatures reinstated as well.
Although ResponsibleOhio has significant resources at its disposal, you have to wonder when investors will start to close their checkbooks. In addition to a race against the clock to gather more petitions, the legislature passed anti monopoly legislation that would trump the ResponsibleOhio amendment should it receive favorable passage in November.
With time against them as well as this additional hurdle, ResponsibleOhio will have a tough road to victory in November. But if they don’t get the extra 30,000 valid signatures by July 30th, it wont matter anyway.