COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a recreational marijuana legalization measure backed by a group of Ohio marijuana advocates, his office announced Thursday afternoon.
The “Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment” to the Ohio Constitution would allow people age 21 and older to possess, produce, transport, use, sell and share cannabis.
The legislature would have to create laws treating marijuana impairment similar to those of alcohol, and Ohio residents would have first dibs on marijuana business licenses. The amendment would leave in place Ohio’s nascent medical marijuana program.
Unlike Ohio’s failed 2015 legalization measure, the new amendment is not backed by wealthy investors, nor does it promise business licenses to campaign backers.
DeWine’s job at this early stage in the ballot issue process is to certify that the summary included on petitions accurately describes the proposed amendment.
DeWine said in a letter rejecting the group’s petition that there were at least three instances where the amendment summary didn’t match the full text:
The summary says the General Assembly has the authority to regulate marijuana commerce, but that doesn’t accurately match the amendment. The summary doesn’t mention that marijuana businesses are only lawful in precincts where a majority votes for the amendment. The summary doesn’t reference the requirement that lawmakers “enact and enable laws, rules, and regulations” within 240 days after the amendment takes effect.
“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine, a GOP candidate for governor, stated in his letter. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”
What’s the next step?
The group backing the petition is called Ohio Families for Change, which wants to end marijuana prohibition in