Ohioans could grow pot at home under new plan

Group seeking to get marijuana legalization issue before Ohio voters tweaking ballot language to also lower the tax on pot.

The group announced Tuesday that it would submit a re-drafted proposal to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine later this month that would include the following changes:

* Adults ages 21 and older could obtain a license to grow marijuana at home;

* Households would be limited to four plants;

* Marijuana purchased at licensed retailers would be taxed at 5 percent, down from 15 percent as originally proposed.

ResponsibleOhio, which is backed by deep-pocketed investors and an experienced political consulting team, wants to ask voters in November to change the state constitution to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. The group has identified 10 locations for indoor growing facilities, including in Middletown and Moraine.

Jon Allison of Drug Free Action Alliance said in a written statement: “Give it another week and their scheme will change again. This week’s hallucination includes ten pot cartels plus up to four home grown marijuana plants per household. And we can’t wait to hear how they explain to cities, counties and townships how their alleged pot tax ‘windfall’ just got whacked with the pot tax dropping from 15 percent to 5 percent. I thought I had to wait another ten days for the next season of ‘House of Cards.’”

Since ResponsibleOhio is re-drafting the ballot proposal, the sites could change. The city of Moraine, which owns one of the parcels that pot investors hold an option to purchase, is opposed to having a marijuana factory and city officials have already noted that the site is within 1,000-feet of a church. The initial ballot proposal says marijuana facilities cannot be within 1,000-feet of churches, day care centers or playgrounds.

The new home growing provisions are modeled after Oregon, ResponsibleOhio said.

“ResponsibleOhio’s plan will allow those over 21 to grow their own marijuana for personal use, but forbid their sale of marijuana to the public,” said ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander in a written statement. “We believe that like alcohol, marijuana can be used safely and should be tightly regulated. Adults over 21 years of age are legally permitted to brew their own beer, but they aren’t permitted to sell it. Our amendment will allow limited and tightly regulated home grow of marijuana, but like home brewing, individuals will not be allowed to sell to the public.”

Carlis McDerment of Ohio Rights Group, which wants to legalize medical marijuana, said lowering the tax rate and allowing home grow are good changes but the main sticking point — limiting it to 10 commercial growers — remains.

“Everybody should be able to participate in the free marketplace,” McDerment said. “It shouldn’t be a monopoly with 10 grow facilities.”

ResponsibleOhio’s plan is opposed by Ohio Rights Group as well as Gov. John Kasich and other statewide officeholders and law enforcement groups.

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