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Marijuana legalization issue needs to be revised

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Marijuana legalization will appear on the November 2015 ballot as Issue 3. However, the Ohio Supreme Court has determined that the current language on the ballot, supported by members of the political action committee Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis, is misleading in four areas and needs to be changed.

Ian James, ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, believes that the revisions that will be made by the Ballot Board of Ohio for this amendment will encourage voters to vote yes on this issue.

“What we had before was fatally flawed,” James told reporters last Friday. “It was very clearly biased. It needed to be changed and today it was.”

A board of five government officials is supposed on meet on Friday to discuss these four revisions to the issue.

The first change would outlaw marijuana establishments in certain areas. The current ballot states that there would be marijuana establishments permitted 1,000 feet within schools, churches and playgrounds, while the revised version will prohibit this.

The second part of the ballot will need to give a more clear explanation about who would be allowed to grow marijuana, how much is allowed to be grown and how it would be transported. The ballot currently states that people must be at least 21 years old to grow and transport at most one ounce of marijuana and a maximum of four flowering plants. Under the amendment, people who are 21 years or older and obtain a license would still be able to grow up to 8 ounces of marijuana and have four flowering plants, but it would still be illegal for people with licenses to transport marijuana.

The ballot also did not clarify two important requirements for opening a marijuana business. The revisions will specify that establishments must have a license and that the store would have to be approved by the neighborhood, meaning that local residents could veto the operation of a business.

The last section of the ballot will need to clarify how additional marijuana establishments can be created. After four years, marijuana growth can expand and another facility can be added, but only if existing provisions cannot meet consumer requests.

Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, an organization aiming to legalize marijuana for adults and advocate safe marijuana use, focuses on the legalization of marijuana and believes once these details are fixed, everything will be settled.

At NORML, we focus on the essentials: that the proposal would end marijuana prohibition and the practice of arresting responsible marijuana smokers, and that it would establish a legally regulated market where consumers could purchase their marijuana in a safe and secure environment,” Stroup stated in an email. “Most of the details of precisely how the system would work would be resolved by regulations to be adopted once the initiative is approved by the voters.”

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