Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jul 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


Backers of a proposed marijuana-legalization amendment filed 95,572 
additional signatures with the state on Thursday, probably enough to 
qualify the issue for the Nov. 3 ballot.

That won't be official, however, for another week or so until boards 
of election tally and Secretary of State Jon Husted verifies that 
ResponsibleOhio has at least 29,509 valid signatures of registered 
Ohio voters. That is the number the marijuana issue fell short of on 
its first submission on July 20.

The group's validation rate on the first round was 39.7 percent. If 
that holds true with this batch, it would produce 37,942 valid 
signatures, enough to cover the shortfall.

ResponsibleOhio needs a total of at least 305,591 signatures to place 
the issue on the ballot.

The testy relationship between ResponsibleOhio and Husted's office 
became more contentious on Thursday as the pro-marijuana group went 
to Franklin County Common Pleas Court seeking an order requiring 
Husted to keep his office open after business hours to accommodate 
filing signatures. While Husted spokesman Josh Eck told The Dispatch 
that the office would remain open until 11:59 p.m. if necessary, the 
secretary of state's office didn't respond to ResponsibleOhio's 
inquiry about the extra hours.

That prompted ResponsibleOhio to send Columbus attorney Donald 
McTigue to court. As it turned out, the court order wasn't needed 
because the signatures were filed about 5 p.m.

Husted's tally from boards of elections on the first round showed 
276,082 valid signatures statewide of the 695,273 signatures from 73 
counties submitted on June 30. State law permits a 10-day "cure 
period" to gather additional signatures.

A dispute erupted between Husted's office and ResponsibleOhio over 
the number of signatures submitted and tallied. ResponsibleOhio said 
it will take the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court, and Husted 
responded on Wednesday by appointing a special investigator to look 
into "discrepancies."

The amendment would ask Ohioans to approve legal sale of marijuana 
for personal and medicinal consumption to those 21 or older. The vast 
majority of pot would be grown at 10 sites across the state, 
including three in central Ohio, owned by wealthy ResponsibleOhio 
investors. The public would be able to grow small amounts of marijuana at home.

Commercial and medical marijuana sales would be taxed at all levels, 
with money being funneled primarily to local governments.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom