Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jul 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


Backers of a for-profit marijuana-legalization amendment remain 
confident the issue will be on the November ballot, but they are 
turning to the Ohio Supreme Court to make sure.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office reported on Monday that 
ResponsibleOhio's petition fell 29,509 valid signatures of registered 
Ohio voters short of the 305,591 needed to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot.

Husted's tally from boards of elections showed 276,082 valid 
signatures statewide, which was 39.7 percent of the 695,273 
signatures from 72 counties submitted on June 30.

ResponsibleOhio's executive director, Ian James, said his group will 
go to the Supreme Court to challenge the status of about 40,000 
signatures on the petition that he said are "unaccounted for" or were 
improperly tossed out in the tally released by Husted.

"Every single voter who signed this petition has the right to be 
counted. We will be taking these shortfalls to the Supreme Court to 
ensure that those thousands of voices are heard," James said.

State law was changed in 2013 to channel appeals of petition issues 
directly to the Supreme Court.

Husted spokesman Matt McClellan called "nonsense" the idea that not 
all signatures were processed. "We sent out 90 boxes (to boards of 
election) and we got 90 boxes back. We processed everything that was 
submitted to us."

ResponsibleOhio won't count on the Supreme Court appeal, James said, 
and will put 200 people to work during a 10-day "cure period" to 
gather the necessary signatures to fill the gap. Additional names 
must be submitted to the secretary of state by July 30 and verified 
by county elections boards.

Boards of election officials around the state who reviewed the 
signatures said most were thrown out because signers listed the wrong 
address, were not registered, didn't list any address, used a false 
or illegible signature, or left lines blank.

If approved by Ohio voters, the ballot issue would legalize the 
commercial growth of marijuana at 10 preselected sites owned by 
wealthy investors, and growth in very small quantities by individuals 
at home. Marijuana and its products would be sold at 1,150 retail 
locations and at medical dispensaries. Sales would be taxed at all levels.

An anti-monopoly issue passed by the state legislature will appear on 
the Nov. 3 ballot. If approved, that issue could cancel out the 
ResponsibleOhio proposal by banning any amendment that establishes an 
economic monopoly in the Ohio Constitution.

Elise Spriggs, a Columbus attorney representing a bipartisan 
coalition opposing the marijuana plan, said the signature shortfall 
reflects "shoddy work" by ResponsibleOhio.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom