Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Launches Legalization Efforts in Ohio

Another attempt to legalize marijuana and lay down conditions for an adult use program – this time through an initiated law – is underway in Buckeye state.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) said it submitted a draft bill summary and first 1,000 voter signatures to the Ohio prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, July 27, officially launching its legalization campaign.

Among some important features, the proposed law would do the following:

• Legalize and regulate the cultivation, manufacture, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products to adults aged 21 and over.

• Legalize home growing for adults 21 years and older with a limit of six plants per adult but 12 plants per household.

• Introduction of a 10% consumption tax for sales to adults at the point of sale.

• Creation of a framework for the use of annual tax revenues. These include separate outsourcing of: 36% for social justice and employment programs; 36% are to be allocated to the municipalities that host adult issuing offices; 25% to fund the education and treatment of people with addiction problems; and 3% to fund a cannabis control department to oversee the adult use program.

• Create protocols for licensing additional cultivators, processors and dispensaries.

You can find the full bill and all that goes with it at the end of this article.

“We really believe that this must be done by the legislature. And we expect lawmakers to follow what we think Ohio voters want, ”said Thomas Haren, an attorney with Frantz Ward who serves as a separate counsel and a spokesman for CRMLA. “We think this is popular across political, socio-economic, race and ethnicity lines. Whatever line you want to draw, this topic is popular.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 91% of US adults believe that marijuana should be legal for either medicinal or recreational use, while 60% believe it should be legal for both medical and recreational use, while 31% believe it should be strictly advocate medical use.

For CRMLA, the ultimate goal is to get the state legislature to ratify a bill that the efforts bring before them.

If this is not the case, a referendum is to be held in November 2022.

The next step for CRMLA is to have the Attorney General approve the summary language of the action.

The group will then need to collect 132,887 more valid signatures to send the proposal to the Ohio General Assembly. Haren said the goal is to get to that point by late December or early January.

The legislature then has four months to review the law. If the bill is not passed, CRMLA will need to collect another new batch of 132,887 signatures (or a total of 265,774, which is 6% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election) in order to be considered for placement in November 2022 ballot papers.

So why now when other efforts are being made at the state and federal levels to legalize marijuana?

Many stakeholders and observers believe marijuana legalization is inevitable, a matter of when, not if.

This is all the more a reason sooner or later to create a legal framework for a program for adult use, Haren said, and go all out, regardless of what others are doing, which may or may not turn out to be.

“The timing is perfect now with this specter of state rescheduling looming over the marijuana industry in general,” said Haren. “If the federal government postpones planning, it could have dire consequences for the state of Ohio, as it would leave us with a de facto unregulated adult use program with no testing or licensing requirements or regulations to prevent sales to minors. We need to be prepared for a change in federal law. ”

Citing a 2019 analysis by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, Haren said the 10% tax component is estimated to generate approximately $ 400 million in additional annual revenue for the state.

An earlier study by the nonprofit tax foundation found the state could generate $ 221 million annually from an excise tax on recreational marijuana.

This 10% tax is also an important part of the Legislature Legalizing Northeast Ohio Reps. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland – say they plan to introduce them in the near future. The politicians announced their plans for the bill last week. You can read more about this invoice here.

CRMLA is practically the latest iteration of the campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol, which tried to get a referendum on Ohio voters to legalize and regulate an adult marijuana market through a constitutional amendment in 2020 but failed. Haren said at this time last year the effort would try again in 2021.

The beginning of the end for this effort was the rejection of the voting summary language of the proposed change by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on March 10 last year, just before state bans were imposed. The initiative struggled with a lack of financial and industrial support and struggled to collect the necessary voter signatures to move forward during the pandemic and the necessary social distancing.

Haren declined to discuss whether CRMLA has a lot today in terms of finance or support, or whether there is an estimated price tag for what it would cost to run successfully.

Observers said last year that a successful attempt to legalize Ohio voters through the constitutional amendment could cost anywhere from $ 10 million to $ 40 million.

CRMLA’s effort this year would most likely be much less. A little more than about half as many signatures are needed to get to the vote this year (compared to 452,958 in 2020). And hardly more than a quarter of the signatures that were needed for the vote last year are needed to bring a proposal to the General Assembly this year.