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Ohio marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for November ballot


By Kaanita Iyer and Ethan Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — The issue of recreational marijuana legalization will be on Ohio’s general election ballot in November after the initiative gathered enough signatures, the Ohio secretary of state’s office announced Wednesday.

With the ballot measure, Ohio joins several states that have taken on the issue in recent years. Twenty-three states and Washington, DC, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

If passed, the proposed Ohio measure – pushed by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol – would allow recreational use of marijuana for residents 21 and older. Medical use is currently legal in the state.

“We are grateful to the thousands of Ohioans who helped us get to this point and are excited to bring our proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol before Ohio voters this coming Election Day,” Tom Haren, spokesperson for the coalition, said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The coalition first filed the petition early last month but was short of nearly 700 signatures. However, during a 10-day extension issued by the state secretary of state’s office, the group collected over 4,000 signatures, well surpassing the threshold to be included on the November 7 general election ballot.

If passed, the measure would revise the state’s existing marijuana use code to allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of most forms of marijuana and would establish a 10% sales tax on its purchase.

The proposal also aims to establish a division within the state’s Department of Commerce that would oversee licensing for marijuana facilities and would direct the Department of Development to study whether previous marijuana laws disproportionately impacted certain communities.

While marijuana use remains illegal federally, several states have pushed legislation and ballot measures to regulate recreational use in recent years.

Last year, marijuana legalization was on the ballot in five states – Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota – but the measures were only approved in Maryland and Missouri. Earlier this year, Minnesota’s legislature passed a bill to legalize recreational use while Oklahoma voters rejected a similar measure.

Ohio’s general election ballot will also feature a separate measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution – an initiative made easier after voters rejected a proposal known as Issue 1 last week that would have raised the threshold to pass constitutional amendments from a simple majority to a 60% vote.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Shawna Mizelle and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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