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By Joe Carroll
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A proposal to legalize recreational adult use of marijuana in Ohio was cleared Wednesday to appear on statewide ballots this fall after the Republican-led state Legislature failed to act on it.
The measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. A 10% tax would be imposed on purchases, to be spent on administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose determined that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had submitted 127,772 valid signatures, more than the 124,046 needed to put the question before voters on Nov. 7.
In July, organizers had originally submitted fewer signatures than required, but were given 10 days to try again. During that grace period, they collected an additional 4,405 valid signatures.
If the issue passes, Ohio would become the 24th state to legalize cannabis for adult use.
“This isn’t groundbreaking,” Tom Haren, a coalition spokesperson, said in a statement when the signatures were submitted. “We’re just trying to get Ohio in line with neighbors like Michigan and Illinois.”
The proposal had a long journey to the ballot.
LaRose first submitted petitions to the Ohio General Assembly on behalf of the coalition on Jan. 28, 2022, triggering a four-month countdown for lawmakers to act. Republican legislative leaders indicated they did not intend to vote the proposal into law. Legislators also asserted that the coalition’s petition signatures weren’t turned in in time to make the 2022 ballot.
The coalition sued and, in a settlement, ultimately agreed to wait until 2023.
Marijuana has been legal for medical use in the state since 2016.