COLUMBUS, OH — A signature gathering campaign aimed at placing marijuana reform on the ballot has begun in Ohio, and the group sponsoring the initiative is hopeful they will place the issue before voters next year.
The Cannabis Rights Amendment, sponsored by the Ohio Rights Group with the help of local grassroots organizations statewide, would authorize the medical use of marijuana by adults 18 years or older (and minors with parental consent) as well as the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state.
Initially, a list of over 30 debilitating medical conditions would be eligible for medical marijuana.
In order for the Cannabis Rights Amendment to be placed on the 2014 ballot, sponsors need to collect 385,253 signatures in at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties by July 3, 2014.
As with most petition drives for ballot initiatives, the petition campaign is accompanied by a push to register voters because only signatures from registered voters count toward the number needed.
In response to the petition, several grassroots organizations have sprouted to help gather support — and signatures. Among them, a new affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Southeast Ohio NORML, as well as a Chillicothe based group calling themselves “Freedom Fighters.”
The Cannabis Rights Amendment, if put on the ballot and passed, lists specific medical conditions such as glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer and Crohn’s disease, that would be required for treatment.
The amendment also would direct the Ohio Department of Agriculture to be the agency in charge of regulating who could grow and sell hemp for industrial uses such as paper, fuel, foods and building materials.
The amendment would not change existing laws regarding driving under the influence or public smoking bans. The full text of the amendment appears here, and the highlights of the amendment can be found here.
The petition was certified by the Ohio Attorney General in May.
An attempt to authorize medical marijuana, House Bill 153, was introduced at the State House by Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) in May, but has not been scheduled for a hearing.