Ohio: Group Releases Specifics of New Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure

OhioMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana could be on the November's ballot in Ohio if 305,291 signatures of registered voters are collected.

The plan, which could provide medicinal cannabis to an estimated 215,000 Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions by 2018, is backed by the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which has been successful with ballot initiatives in other states, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

A year after Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected a for-profit plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, the MPP is counting on the differences in the plans to mean success this time. ResponsibleOhio's plan would have handed over control of commercial cannabis cultivation in the state to a dozen wealthy investors who backed the campaign.

MPP will be working locally through a group called Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

“The Ohio initiative is similar to the medical-marijuana laws in 23 states and the District of Columbia,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the MPP, reports Meghan Matthews at WBNS-10TV. “The Ohio initiative will allow patients with a list of medical problems to use, possess, and grow their own medical marijuana if they have the approval of their physicians.”

"We will be supporting an initiative that would allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it," said spokesman Mason Tvert of the MPP. "It's going to allow people with certain medical conditions to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It will establish a regulated system of licensed businesses that will produce and sell marijuana to those licensed patients.”

"It was quite clear that Ohioans may not be ready to make marijuana legal for adults, but very much so to make it legal for seriously ill people,” Tvert said.

If the issue is successful, it would create a new state governmental agency -- the Medical Marijuana Control Division -- that would issue ID cards for patients with qualifying ailments, and licenses to businesses to grow, process and sell medicinal cannabis to patients. Patients would also be allowed to grow up to six plants at home.

The MMCD would first accept applications for large growers, manufacturers and testing facilities starting in August 2017, reports Columbus Business First. Retail dispensaries would follow in February 2018.

Large-scale cultivators would have to pay $500,000 for the license to grow in a 25,000-square-foot site. The organization said it capped those large-scale licenses at 15, comprising about 9 acres of total cultivation. Those willing to limit their sites to 5,000 square feet -- "medium cultivators" -- would pay $5,000 per license.

“After election day, the idea of working in Ohio wasn’t really on the radar,” Kampie said in a conference call this morning, referring to the ignominious defeat of ResponsibleOhio's marijuana monopoly. “But voters in all states make a distinction between medical marijuana and full legalization of marijuana.

"It’s pretty clear the initiative last year in Ohio failed...because it was for full legalization and not medical marijuana, it chose winners and losers, and was in a off-year election when turnout is lower and older,” Kampia said. "None of those things apply to our proposal."

Supporters said language for the proposal will be submitted to Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine within a week or so. After that, the issue would require approval by the Ohio Ballot Board before being cleared for signature collection.

“Our view of the legislature is they’ve had a couple of decades to do something and not taken any action," Kampia said of the efforts of two legislative committtees which are considering action on medicinal cannabis. "We view the state legislature as being composed of a stew of legislators, many of whom are hostile, and some are supportive.”

Under the proposal, patients with “cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder” and other medical conditions could qualify for medical marijuana cards. It would set up a state-licensed network of cannabis growers, processors and retailers.