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Should Ohio legalize recreational marijuana? Issue could be heading back to voters


New information: We just got the details of the proposed marijuana constitutional amendment that may face Ohio voters in 2018. Get the details here.

Earlier story: Ohioans may be voting again on full legalization of marijuana.

Jimmy Gould, a backer of the 2015 statewide ballot issue, is expected to announce Monday that he and others are backing the “Free Market Adult Consumption of Marijuana” ballot issue in November 2018.

Ian James, Gould’s business partner at Green Light Acquisitions, LLC, said the amendment will seek to legalize adult use of marijuana and allow those 21 and older to own and operate cultivation, processing and dispensaries. It would be separate from Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, James said.

More details are expected to be released Monday at a press conference in Columbus.

Related: Marijuana campaign admits mistakes

To put a proposed constitutional amendment before the voters in November, the group would need to collect valid signatures from 305,592 registered Ohio voters by early July. Although that is a large number, it’s a hurdle the group has cleared in the past and James owns a petition circulating company.

Gould, James and other investors were the driving force behind ResponsibleOhio, the 2015 marijuana legalization issue that voters rejected by nearly a 2:1 margin. It was opposed by business, health, civic and political leaders as well as pro-marijuana advocates.

The group is also among the 97 applicants who were not awarded one of the 12 large-scale grower licenses for medical marijuana that the Ohio Department of Commerce announced last week.

Related: Ohio announces first set of marijuana grower licenses

“We plan to challenge the entire process and seek a complete review of all scores and re-assessment by new graders, with proper oversight, because this process is severely broken,” Gould said in a written statement after learning his company was not selected.

The statement hinted at another ballot initiative.

In November 2015, voters rejected the ResponsibleOhio ballot issue calling for legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. But strong public support for medical marijuana as well as the threat of another ballot issue prompted lawmakers to craft a legal medical marijuana law.

Related: Springfield, Yellow Springs to get large scale marijuana operations

In June 2016, Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is jointly managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board. Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses. It is expected to be fully operational by September 2018.



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