Ohio 2018 Marijuana Legalization Initiative Details Released


Next year is going to be a big year for marijuana reform. Oklahoma is already voting on medical marijuana in 2018 and will hopefully be joined by Utah and Missouri. Michigan is going to likely be voting on adult-use legalization, and Vermont and New Jersey are poised to legalize cannabis for adult use via legislative action. One more state, Ohio, may be in the mix too. Per Cincinnati.com:

A group of local investors who failed in their bid to secure a state license to grow medical marijuana on Monday announced plans for a statewide ballot issue to fully legalize marijuana.

Jimmy Gould, chairman of Cincinnati-based Green Light Acquisitions, proposed an Ohio constitutional amendment that would allow anyone 21 or older to grow marijuana in their homes for personal use or commercial cultivation.

The initiative’s official language is still being crafted, with an official filing of the initiative expected next month. The initiative is being touted as being ‘as different from Issue 3 as night and day’ according to Gould. Issue 3 failed in 2015 by a vote of 64% to 36%. The 2015 version of the initiative was the most profit-motivated legalization initiative to ever make a state ballot.

Ian James, who helps run ResponsibleOhio, stated that the new effort will learn from the mistakes from the 2015 effort. Specifically, there will be no ‘Buddie the Marijuana Mascot’ (hallelujah!) this time and there will be no monopoly model. Instead, the initiative will include a ‘free-market’ model. The initiative will have all of the usual limitations for cannabis legalization initiatives, such as:

  • Local control – municipalities can ban cannabis businesses from operating in their jurisdictions
  • No public consumption
  • Businesses cannot be located near certain things such as schools
  • Landlords can still ban cannabis consumption and cultivation on their rental properties
  • Employers can still prohibit cannabis consumption by employees
  • Marijuana DUI laws still apply

The restrictions above are expected and are in place in every other state that has legalized marijuana. The legal age for cannabis would be set at 21 years old, like every other legal state in America. The initiative will not make any changes to Ohio’s medical marijuana program, but that’s not to say that lawmakers won’t use legalization as an excuse to make changes to medical marijuana rules as they have done in many other states.

Home cultivation will be legal if the initiative passes, although I have not seen specific plant limits yet. I have also not seen what any specific possession limits will be. The initiative will also legalize hemp cultivation if it passes. The campaign needs to gather 305,592 valid signatures in order to make the 2018 ballot, which is no easy task.

But considering that the effort is backed by deep pockets, I don’t think that the signature gathering effort will be an issue. The real question is if Ohio voters will pass the initiative if/when they see it on the ballot. As with any campaign effort, the devil will be in the details. When the official initiative language is released I will make sure to put up a post about it.

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