COLUMBUS, Ohio — More details of a plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio emerged Tuesday, but they didn’t address a key question — who would be allowed to grow legal cannabis?
The ResponsibleOhio constitutional amendment would limit growing to 10 specific locations to be outlined in the amendment language, which has not yet been made public or formally submitted to state officials. The 10 sites would be available to investors who help fund the campaign.
The campaign has been silent on these investors, but Northeast Ohio Media Group previously reported two Cincinnati philanthropists — Barbara Gould and her brother James Gould — are among the backers.
Medical marijuana proposals have struggled to collect the hundreds of thousands of signatures to put the issue before voters, a practice most petitioners say requires hiring signature gatherers. ResponsibleOhio representatives were confident Tuesday that they would be able to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2015 ballot.
ResponsibleOhio attorney Chris Stock said limiting the number of growers also ensures the marijuana produced is high-quality and meets several standards. Stock said a newly created marijuana commission would be able to grant more or fewer licenses, depending on consumer demand.
The leaders of a different group seeking to legalize marijuana without restricting growers said the ResponsibleOhio amendment would grant a constitutional monopoly to a select few and likely not be able to meet demand. The amendment proposed by Ohioans to End Prohibition, targeted for November 2016, would allow individuals to grow marijuana at home and allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, according to the group’s website.
“There are several reasons to support the legalization of marijuana: to alleviate pain and suffering of medical marijuana patients, to end a needless and costly drug war, and to create a robust new industry that would bring millions of dollars into the economy of Ohio,” Ohioans to End Prohibition President Sri Kavuru said in an email in response to the ResponsibleOhio plan. “This plan will do none of these things, and is a slap in the face for Ohioans, who deserve a common sense, comprehensive marijuana policy.”
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