Ohio marijuana legalization campaign adds more signatures


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A group seeking to legalize marijuana possession and cultivation in Ohio submitted nearly 30,000 additional signatures to state officials in an effort to put the issue in front of lawmakers this year.

Earlier this month, it looked like the group might not get the nearly 133,000 signatures needed before Thursday’s deadline, after the Ohio secretary of state said the group was about 13,000 signatures short as of Jan. 3.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 29,918 new signatures to Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office, cleveland.com reported Thursday.

The state must still verify those extra signatures, making sure they’re all registered voters and there are no duplicate signatures, among other things. The coalition initially sent 206,943 signatures but only 119,825 were valid.

Should the petition drive ultimately succeed, Ohio lawmakers will have four months to decide whether to take up the issue. If they don’t act, the group can get the issue on a statewide ballot in November by gathering an additional 133,000 valid signatures.

The petition seeks to allow adults 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to six plants per person, 12 plants per household.

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016, with dispensaries opening in early 2019.

Rep. Jamie Callender, a Republican from Lake County, introduced a legalization bill last month that calls for a 10% tax on marijuana sales, a provision included in the group’s petitions. Callender has acknowledged that Republican leaders don’t support his bill.