Marijuana legalization will not be on the ballot for this November’s election in Ohio, under the terms of a settlement a group backing the effort said it reached Friday with state officials.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol instead said it will delay its legalization campaign until 2023. In exchange, state officials have agreed to accept the more than 140,000 signatures the coalition already has collected, instead of potentially making them start over from scratch.
“This guarantees the validity of the signatures we’ve already gathered, and we’ve got a much clearer path if we have to get to the ballot next year,” said Tom Haren, a spokesman for the coalition.
The coalition sued state officials earlier this month after Ohio House Republicans refused to take up the marijuana legalization law the group had proposed under a state mechanism called an initiated statute, through which members of the public can propose new laws. The House GOP said the group submitted its signatures too late to be considered during this year’s legislative session.
Under the initiated statute rules, the public can force lawmakers to take up a proposed law change if they can gather the needed number of signatures — currently 132,887 — from registered voters in at least 44 counties across the state. If lawmakers don’t enact the law as written within four months, backers of an initiated statute then can collect the same number of signatures again to force it onto the ballot for the following November’s election. [Read more at Cleveland.com]