DARKE COUNTY — Marijuana legalized in the Buckeye State? Not so fast.
That was the message sent Monday to ResponsibleOhio by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted regarding that group’s “Marijuana Legalization Amendment,” a proposed constitutional amendment which it seeks to have placed on the November 2015 General Election Ballot.
If approved, the amendment to the Ohio Constitution would legalize personal production and usage of marijuana up to certain amounts for individuals 21 years of age and older. It would also authorize the construction and operation of 10 marijuana-growing farms in Ohio and set up licensed distribution shops within the state.
Opponents of the amendment, including some pro-marijuana advocacy groups, claim the initiative would set up a “monopoly” on pot growing in the state.
According to Husted, ResponsibleOhio failed to meet the necessary requirements to have the initiative placed on the ballot — in this case, providing 305,591 valid signatures, a number equal to 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014.
The secretary of state’s office claims only 276,082 valid signatures were submitted.
ResponsibleOhio did submit enough signatures to meet the five-percent threshold required for the initiative, collecting more than five percent of the votes in 73 of Ohio’s 88 counties, more than the 44 counties required.
In addition to the notification sent to the group, the secretary of state also released a document showing the number of valid and invalid signatures of each county.
In Darke County alone, Husted reported 1,017 valid signatures and 982 invalid signatures. Other counties showed similar discrepancies, while some displayed more invalid than valid signatures.
Having failed to meet all of the requirements to place the issue on the ballot, ResponsibleOhio has been given 10 additional days to make up the difference. Additional signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state’s office no later than July 30.
Erik Martin may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-569-4314.