A proposal to legalize adult use of marijuana in Ohio narrowly fell short Tuesday of the signatures it needed to make the fall statewide ballot. Backers will have 10 days, or until Aug. 4, to gather more.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose determined the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was short by just 679 signatures of the 124,046 signatures required to put the question before voters on Nov. 7.
Tom Haren, a coalition spokesperson, said he was confident the group could find the signatures by the Aug. 4 deadline.
‘It looks like we came up a little short in this first phase, but now we have 10 days to find just 679 voters to sign a supplemental petition — this is going to be easy, because a majority of Ohioans support our proposal to regulate and tax adult use marijuana,’ Haren said in a statement.
If the initiative makes the November ballot, a simple majority vote is required for it to pass.
LaRose’s declaration marks just the latest twist in the proposal’s long fight to become law.
LaRose first submitted petitions to the Ohio General Assembly on behalf of the coalition in January 2022, triggering a four-month countdown for lawmakers to act. Republican legislative leaders didn’t, and lawmakers asserted that the group’s petitions had arrived too late for 2022 ballots.
A lawsuit and settlement ensued under which the group agreed to wait until this year.
The ballot measure proposes allowing 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 support administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs.
If the issue passes, Ohio would become the 24th state to legalize cannabis for adult use. The outcome of a special election Aug. 8 on whether to raise the bar for passing future constitutional amendments wouldn’t impact the marijuana question, since it was advanced through the citizen initiated statute process.
Ohio’s Legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and the state’s first dispensaries opened in 2019.