Make 2016 the year that Ohio improves marijuana policies
Last update: January 27, 2016
In November 2015, a controversial measure to legalize and regulate marijuana — but to allow only 10 specific parcels to grow commercial marijuana — was defeated at the ballot box. However, poll after poll showed overwhelming voter support for medical marijuana and some reform. After the vote, some state legislators vowed to pursue medical marijuana legalization in the 2016 session. The session opened on January 5, and now is the time to let lawmakers know you want them to support this compassionate reform.
On November 4, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and Sen. Kenny Yuko sent a letter to General Assembly leaders calling on them to work toward bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Even Gov. John Kasich is open to the legislature studying whether medical marijuana should be approved, deferring to doctors’ expertise. And a recent Quinnipiac poll shows 90 percent support for medical marijuana among Ohioans.
Hopefully, given strong support for marijuana policy reform among Ohio’s residents, the Ohio Legislature will act to craft a workable medical marijuana program for seriously ill patients. In 2015, the only reform bill presented would have allowed very limited access to cannabidiol (CBD) — which is one of the dozens of cannabinoids in marijuana; the bill failed to advance.
Medical marijuana ballot initiative
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM) is working to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative through a simple majority of the vote in Ohio on November 8, 2016. The statewide signature drive will span from April to June of 2016, with the goal of submitting at least 305,591 valid signatures (approximately 550,000 gross signatures) to the Ohio government during the first week of July.
The 2016 campaign is focusing only on medical marijuana, which enjoys a high level of support among Ohio voters. If passed by a majority of Ohio voters on November 8, this initiative would legalize medical marijuana in a manner that’s similar to the laws in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Specifically, the Ohio initiative would allow patients with serious medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana from retail outlets — and/or grow their own medical marijuana at home — if they have the approval of their physicians. In the furtherance of this, the Ohio government would issue licenses for businesses to grow, process, test, and sell marijuana to patients with state-issued identification cards. If no other states enact medical marijuana laws via their legislatures this spring, Ohio would become the 24th medical marijuana state in the country.
Marijuana laws in Ohio
Possession of less than 100 grams (or about 3.5 ounces), giving 20 grams or less of marijuana to another person, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are each considered “minor misdemeanors,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150. A minor misdemeanor is not a “jailable” offense, but a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from six months to five years.
While Ohio’s marijuana penalties are less draconian than its neighbors, law enforcement officers are still wasting valuable time and resources. In 2012, Ohio officers arrested or cited 14,374 people for marijuana-related offenses, 94% of which were for possession only. At the same time, 91.6% of all reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Let your legislators know it’s time law enforcement stopped wasting time punishing adults for choosing a safer alternative to alcohol.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Ohio, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free alert service.