States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: May 21, 2023
Second phase of signature drive kicks off to put adult-use legalization on the November 2023 ballot
In December of 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a ballot initiative campaign to legalize cannabis for adults, announced that it submitted 206,943 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in the first phase of petitioning for its proposed ballot measure.. After review, state officials deemed that an insufficient number of signatures were valid. Additional signatures were collected in January of this year to make up the difference.
Based on a technicality regarding the timing requirements for ballot petition signature drives, lawmakers in Ohio who oppose legalization planned to file a lawsuit aiming to block the measure from the November 2022 ballot. In May of 2022, campaign leaders reached an agreement with legislators to halt the lawsuit and delay the possibility of ballot qualification until 2023.
Once again, state lawmakers passed up an opportunity to enact the initiative themselves during the 2023 Ohio legislative session. Now the time has come for the campaign to collect another 124,000 voter signatures from 44 of Ohio's 88 counties. They have a two-month window to do so, and if they are successful, voters will have an opportunity to vote on the legalization initiative later this year. Tom Haren, a spokesperson for the coalition, told local news media, “Let me be clear: we are going to submit the required number of signatures by July 5 to get it on the ballot this November. Read MPP’s summary of the measure or the full text of the initiative.
After MPP and other advocates in the state mobilized behind a ballot referendum, state lawmakers passed a law to establish a medical cannabis program for Ohioans in 2016. As of May 2022, the program benefits nearly 300,000 registered patients throughout the state. For more information on Ohio’s medical marijuana program and access to patient forms and other resources, visit Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website. And, for an overview of the current medical marijuana law, see our summary.
For individuals who are not registered as a medical marijuana patients, 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.
In recent years, efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession at the local level in cities around Ohio have been met with success. During the 2020 Election, voters in four more Ohio cities approved cannabis decriminalization measures, joining 18 other municipalities in the state that have enacted similar initiatives. More and more Ohioans are ready for change and believe that marijuana should be legal for adults. They see that marijuana prohibition has failed and only undermines public health and safety. It’s time for Ohio to move forward, stop arresting people for marijuana, and adopt a sensible system of legalization.
Yesterday, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced that they have submitted 206,943 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State — over 70,000 more than needed to meet the requirement for the first phase of the ballot initiative qualification process.