COLUMBUS, Ohio — Backers of a measure enshrining the right to use medical marijuana and grow industrial hemp in the Ohio Constitution are moving forward, despite the fact that medical marijuana is already legal in Ohio.
Supporters of the Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Amendment say constitutional language would ensure Ohio patients have access to marijuana and solidify the argument that marijuana is a states rights issue.
They’ve been frustrated with the time it’s taking to set up Ohio’s medical marijuana program and some of the strict rules proposed by state regulators. And officials in President Donald Trump’s administration have signaled they might take a sterner approach to marijuana regulation.
But Marijuana Policy Project, the well-funded national group that backed a separate medical marijuana amendment last year, is not planning to restart its effort.
Didn’t Ohio already legalize medical marijuana?
The Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Amendment got the green light last year to collect signatures to qualify for a future statewide ballot. But Grassroots Ohio, the group pushing the measure, dialed back its effort after state lawmakers passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in May.
Now supporters say they’re ramping up efforts to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
“We are being very respectful and patient with our administration,” amendment backer Theresa Daniello said. “We commend them for working towards a successful medical cannabis program. However, the basic human right to chooses nonlethal form of healing must also be recognized.”
Will it make the ballot?
Putting a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot is a heavy lift. Supporters must collect at least 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters and meet a certain threshold in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Most organizations pay a couple million dollars to hire signature gathering firms. Once approved, millions of dollars more are needed to educate