Pubdate: Sat, 19 Sep 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


The pot war of words ended peacefully on Friday, as the Ohio Ballot 
Board and ResponsibleOhio agreed on a fix for flawed language in a 
marijuana-legalization amendment that voters will address on Nov. 3.

The board of three Republicans and two Democrats voted unanimously to 
change previously approved language that the Ohio Supreme Court 
declared was inaccurate and misleading to voters.

"We come here this morning as conciliators, not agitators," said Andy 
Douglas, a former Supreme Court justice representing ResponsibleOhio, 
the group backing the marijuana amendment. Douglas said four changes 
proposed by the board "almost meets exactly what we had written."

Minutes later, the board approved the changes, ending a legal 
standoff that began on Aug. 18 when the board acted on the first 
version of ballot language. ResponsibleOhio appealed to the Supreme 
Court, which ruled in favor of the group this week. The changes: 
Added that one new marijuana-growing facility (in addition to 10 
initial sites) could be allowed after four years "only if existing 
facilities cannot meet consumer demand."

Clarified that retail marijuana shops "must have a state license that 
may be obtained only if the electors of the precinct where the store 
will be located approved the use of the location for such purpose at 
a local option election."

Deleted a reference to people 21 or older being able to purchase, 
grow, possess and share "over one-half pound of marijuana," replacing 
it with the more specific "eight ounces of usual homegrown marijuana" 
plus the ability to purchase one ounce of marijuana "for recreational use."

Adjusted wording to note that "after a certain date," new schools, 
libraries and day-care centers could not force an existing marijuana 
shop to close even if it is within 1,000 feet of those establishments.

Secretary of State Jon Husted said boards of election across the 
state can now update and mail ballots for military and overseas 
voters, which go out today. Husted said only 230 ballots were 
immediately impacted by the change.

Ohio voters can begin voting on Oct. 6 in person and by mail-in 
absentee ballot. Additional information is available online at

Husted said he was satisfied with the changes and pleased that the 
court allowed the word monopoly to remain in the title of the ballot amendment.

"It is a monopoly. It needed to be described as such," he said.

The amendment would permit commercial growth of marijuana at 10 
specified sites that are owned by investors in the ResponsibleOhio 
campaign. Marijuana could be purchased legally by anyone 21 or older 
and prescribed by a physician for anyone with a qualifying medical 
condition. All sales would be taxed, with most of the proceeds going 
to local government.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom