Late last week the Ohio Ballot Board approved an initiative from the group Ohioans for Medical Marijuana; this means the group can now begin collecting signatures from registered voters in the state.
After an initial rejection, the measure was approved by Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and the ballot board was the last hurdle to be cleared before signature-gathering could begin. OMM (backed by national powerhouse Marijuana Policy Project) now has until July 6th to get 305,591 valid signatures to get the medical cannabis initiative on the fall ballot.
Polls have shown an overwhelming majority support medical marijuana legalization in Ohio. That — along with MPP’s funding and experience in this area — means that Ohioans for Medical Marijuana has a good chance at getting the measure on the ballot and passing it this November.
“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis."
If the measure passes this fall, there could be dispensaries open in Ohio by early 2018. The year 2017 would be spent by the state approving license applications and creating the bureaucracies that will oversee the industry.
MPP estimates that there are about 215,000 qualified medical cannabis patients in the state, a number they have extrapolated from the MMJ program in Michigan. The Michigan program has been riddled by tensions between patients and authorities pretty much from the start. Hopefully a better-structured plan in Ohio will avoid many of the problems experienced by Michigan patients.
And don’t forget that Ohio is a vital swing state in this year’s presidential election, which means there will be many visits by the candidates. The issue of medical marijuana is bound to come up, forcing the nominees to voice their support, however tepid it might be.