Well, last week I posed a question: how will medical marijuana become legal in Ohio? Up until this past weekend, there were two medical marijuana initiatives going around the state of Ohio and there is also a medical marijuana bill that has finished its journey through the House of Representatives and the Senate. With that bill finally at the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature in order to become law, it appears that the major initiative that was aiming for the November ballot have decided to drop their campaign.
The group, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, had been partnered with the national group Marijuana Policy Project, in order to get their ballot initiative in front of voters this November. They needed to gather 305,000 signatures of valid voters by July 6th in order to be on the ballot, but in light of legislature passing a bill with only a couple of differences, Marijuana Policy Project decided their efforts were needed elsewhere.
This comes as a surprise considering as recently as last Wednesday, they had told The Enquirer that they would be continuing to pursue the ballot initiative, regardless of whether or not lawmakers voted to pass the bill. However, noting the $20 million dollars that ResponsibleOhio spent last year on their failed initiative, it does make sense when you can continue to push lawmakers to expand the bill.
“The reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill,” said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, in a statement.
The only things that make a large difference between the bill proposed by the House of Representatives and the ballot initiative written by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana is that the bill does not allow for smoked marijuana (though for certain conditions, vaping may be an option) and growing at home, which would have cut medical costs drastically and made it available to people of lower income who may not be able to afford medical marijuana therapy.
There is still one more initiative still circulating by a group called Grassroots Ohio; their campaign aims to legalize medical marijuana as well as growing hemp on farm property. However, the much smaller campaign is aiming for the 2017 ballot as the November 2016 one is unrealistic considering the timeframe they have left to gather signatures.
So there may still be a ballot initiative, but it won’t be this November. Either way, as soon as Governor Kasich signs the bill, Ohio will become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in the United States.