Medical marijuana legalization effort hits snag in Ohio

Members of Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis are headed back to the drawing board after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday rejected the group’s preliminary application to ask voters to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio.

DeWine said the summary of the End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012, submitted to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office earlier this month along with 2,143 signatures, is not a “fair and truthful” representation of what the act would do if it were to become law. DeWine’s approval is one of the first steps in the complicated process citizens must go through to present a constitutional amendment to voters.

Among the problems cited by DeWine: the group’s summary failed to mention elements of the amendment that would repudiate federal cannabis laws, and also failed to mention how the proposal would change the legal definition of when someone is considered to be under the influence of marijuana.

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine wrote in a letter rejecting the petition. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”

The group can try again to get DeWine’s approval, but first it would need to not only revise the proposed amendment’s language, but also once again gather at least 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters.

Tonya Davis, a Kettering resident and member of the petitioning committee for Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis, said the group will keep at it.

“All I can say is we will continue to try,” she said. “…It’s still not bad for our first attempt.”

If DeWine were to approve the proposed amendment’s language, Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis would still need to gather about 385,000 valid signatures from registered voters, among other requirements, before making it onto the ballot.

The End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012 is one of multiple marijuana legalization measures currently in the air. DeWine last May certified the language for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment, a different proposal backed by a group of advocates called the Ohio Rights Group.

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