Ohio Will Vote on Legalizing Marijuana in November

By McCarton Ackerman 08/17/15

A pro-marijuana group is spending big money to promote legalization in the swing state.

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The swing state of Ohio could play a crucial role in the forward momentum of marijuana legalization when voters decide on Nov. 3 whether it will become a reality in the state.

Secretary of State Jon Husted confirmed earlier this week that private investor group ResponsibleOhio had collected 320,267 signatures of registered voters, 14,676 more than necessary to qualify for the general election ballot.

The group has already spent $2 million since March on the petition drive to collect signatures, but pledged to spend an additional $20 million over the next three months leading up to the vote. They have already starting running TV spots and plan to add Internet and radio advertising, door-to-door campaigning, and even a bus tour.

"It's time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November—we couldn't be more excited,” said Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio. "By reforming marijuana laws in November, we'll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities."

Also on the ballot will be a measure written last June by the Ohio legislature, which prohibits “a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” in Ohio, especially involving any federally controlled substance such as marijuana. This was written in response to the oligarchy proposed by ResponsibleOhio, which would limit the cultivation of the commercial crop to 10 farms that have already been named.

Over 20 wealthy investors have already purchased farms or put under purchase option including reality TV star Nick Lachey, NFL player Frostee Rucker, and former NBA star Oscar Robertson.

Husted has said that the legislative initiative would take precedence if voters passed both measures, but ResponsibleOhio has disputed the accuracy of that statement. The dispute would ultimately need to be decided by a court if this occurred.

With 11.6 million residents, Ohio would become the most populous jurisdiction to legalize marijuana to date if the measure passed.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.