Ohio Senate Leader Rejects Recreational Cannabis Petition

Ohio State Senate President Matt Huffman said last week he would not act on a petition to legalize cannabis for recreational use and dared reform activists advancing the proposal to put the question to voters in a statewide election. Huffman, one of Ohio’s most powerful Republican lawmakers and the leader of the GOP-controlled state’s Senate, told reporters he would not introduce the proposal to legalize cannabis for adult use sponsored by the group Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. vote.

“I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my position,” Huffman said, as quoted by the Columbus Expedition. “I’m not going to take him to the Senate. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, go ahead.

Last month, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had submitted petitions with approximately 136,000 verified signatures from registered voters, more than enough to send the legalization proposal to lawmakers for consideration. Under Ohio law, the state legislature then had four months to pass the measure as written or pass an amended version.

If lawmakers don’t, the campaign can collect an additional 132,887 signatures to present the proposal to voters via a ballot measure for this year’s general election. Tom Haren, a campaign spokesman, called on state lawmakers to approve the offer to legalize recreational marijuana after LaRose announced Jan. 28 that the group had collected enough signatures to send the proposal to the legislature.

“We are ready and eager to work with Ohio lawmakers over the next four months to legalize adult use of marijuana in Ohio,” Haren said in a statement. “We are also fully prepared to collect additional signatures and bring this issue directly to voters on November 8, 2022, if lawmakers do not act.”

Proposal would legalize recreational pot for adults

If passed, the Campaign’s proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of concentrates . Adults would also be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants at home, with a cap of 12 plants per household.

The measure would also levy a 10% tax on cannabis products. Revenue generated from the tax would be used to fund the administration of the cannabis program and shared with municipalities that agree to allow marijuana dispensaries to be located in their jurisdiction. Taxes would also fund drug addiction programs.

Huffman isn’t the only state GOP leader to publicly oppose efforts to legalize pot for adults. Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who campaigned against a ballot on the legalization of recreational cannabis as state attorney general in 2015, said he would veto a cannabis bill for adult use if one of them made it to his office.

“No, I think that’s a mistake,” DeWine said. “I think you’re changing the culture and sending a signal to kids… If it’s legal, every kid, the message is, it’s okay.”

And House Majority Leader Bill Seitz has said a bill to legalize recreational cannabis introduced by other Republicans is unlikely to be approved.

“I haven’t read the bill, but I doubt it can pass,” Seitz said. “My own bipartisan bill authorizing medical marijuana for the treatment of the autism spectrum still hasn’t made it out of committee, and this newly proposed bill is a giant leap beyond that. “

Haren said he believed Republicans refused to put the campaign proposal to a vote because they feared it would succeed.

“I sort of suspect that the reason the leaders are saying they don’t want to take our proposal to the ground is that they think it will pass if it gets to the ground,” he said. . “Otherwise there would be no problem.”