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Ohio marijuana backers submit 6,500 additional signatures for November ballot

Marijuana buds ready for harvest rest on a plant at AT-Calyx Peak Companies of Ohio, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Akron, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
Marijuana buds ready for harvest rest on a plant at AT-Calyx Peak Companies of Ohio, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Akron, Ohio.

The group leading the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana says it has collected nearly 10 times the number of additional signatures it needed to put the issue before voters in November.

Tom Haren with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol said the group collected 6,545 more signatures and submitted them to the Ohio Secretary of State to be verified. The group fell short of its goal in late July by 679 signatures and had 10 days to collect more to make up the difference.

"This submission validates what we’ve said all along: regulating marijuana is popular in Ohio," Haren said in a statement.

The group needs 124,046 valid signaturesto put the question before voters on November 7 ballot.

Now the Secretary of State's office has to verify the signatures. If at least 679 are validated, the initiated statute will appear before voters in November alongside a constitutional amendment aiming to protect access to abortion, contraception and reproductive healthcare.

The ballot measure proposes allowing adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. A 10% tax would support administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs.

If the issue passes, Ohio would become the 24th state to legalize cannabis for adult use. The outcome of a special election August 8 on whether to raise the bar for passing future constitutional amendments wouldn’t impact the marijuana question, since it was advanced through the citizen-initiated statute process.

Ohio’s legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and the state’s first dispensaries opened in 2019.

Haren said the group looks forward to giving Ohio voters a chance to make their voices heard when the issue comes before voters in November.

If the initiative makes the November ballot, a simple majority vote is required for it to pass.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.