Group: Proposed Ohio marijuana bill different from failed 2015 attempt

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In this photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2019, packaged smokable hemp flower is seen on the counter at the Hemp Farmacy in Raleigh, N.C. A proposed ban on smokable hemp is making its way through North Carolina’s General Assembly after the product’s popularity surged in the six months since the passage of the federal Hemp Farming Act of 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A proposed marijuana bill for the November election would legalize adult-use across the state and has several changes from the controversial bill that lost in 2015.

Issue 3 in 2015 lost 64 to 36 percent and faced opposition from some pro-marijuana groups for limiting the number of sellers. Governor John Kasich signed a bill that legalized marijuana for medical uses in 2016.

Tom Haren, who is the general counsel for the group, said the attitude of the general public is much different than in 2015 and the latest bill – which a petition was filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s office on Monday – is much different from the previous one.

“When it comes to marijuana and you compare the polling now from 2015, a majority of independents, Democrats and Republicans support legalization for adult use,” Haren said.

The group wants to put the measure on the ballot during a presidential election unlike an off-year like 2015, which Haren said would bring in a broader group of voters. Haren said one major problem with Issue 3 was the amendment allowed only 12 investors to grow in the entire state. Haren said their bill would allow medical dispensaries and cultivators to sell first then anyone could apply for a license through the Ohio Department of Commerce.

“(This) is the case in every state when they transition to an adult-use program from a medical one,” Haren said. “After that the Department of Commerce will issue the additional licenses. This language will make sense to existing operators and other people looking to get into the industry later on. This is a key distinction between this amendment and the previous attempt.”

Haren said the amendment would allow home growers to continue keeping their own plants, allowing them up to three mature plants and six overall.

“If you are a patient advocate, this provides wider access and gets rid of red tape,” Haren said. “This amendment also has very strong social equity reforms in place. It would direct the Department of Commerce to commence a study on equality and the licenses being given.”

Haren said the group would want a tax put on sales with 50 percent of the funds given to local governments. This would help remedy cuts made in 2010 by Kasich when Ohio had to remedy an $8 billion budget deficit the state is constitutionally mandated to keep balanced. Most of those cuts came from state funding to localities.

The petition for the amendment can be found at the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

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