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Ohio Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Ballot Language

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Efforts to put a medical marijuana measure on Ohio’s November ballot hit a snag Friday when Attorney General Mike DeWine ruled that a summary of the initiative provided by advocates is not fair and truthful.

“There are a number of discrepancies between the summary and the proposed amendment,” DeWine wrote in a letter to Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a national group coordinating medical cannabis efforts in the state.

The measure, if passed by voters, would allow patients with doctors’ recommendations to purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries. They would also be authorized to grown their own cannabis at home.

But DeWine said that there are discrepancies between the summary MPP’s local campaign committee, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, prepared and the full measure’s text.

For example, the summary says that under the measure, state regulators “shall issue no more than fifteen [large scale] medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses” whereas the full text allows for more such licenses to be granted if it is determined that they would be “necessary to meet the demand for medical marijuana by qualifying patients.”

Another passage in the summary describes ways patients can get the ID cards that would authorize them to use medical cannabis if state regulators are dragging their feet on issuing regulations after July 1, 2017. But the measure itself sets those provisions as effective after August 1, 2017.

There is also one apparent discrepancy DeWine identified regarding driving under the influence of marijuana.

“We appreciate the attorney general’s feedback and we’ll be resubmitting our revised petition next week,” Mason Tvert, MPP’s director of communications, told Marijuana.com in an email. “This is just part of Ohio’s very rigorous initiative process, so it’s not particularly surprising. We’ll be making some adjustments based on their notes and then moving forward as planned.”

While the group is operating on a tight timetable to collect the 305,591 valid signatures needed to qualify the measure for November’s ballot, Tvert said that the temporary hitch shouldn’t jeopardize the effort’s ultimate success.

“We expected the AG could provide these types of edits to the initiative summary and it was factored into our overall calendar — from the beginning we have predicted the full signature drive would start in early April,” he said.

Once MPP submits a new draft, DeWine will have 10 days to issue a ruling on whether its summary is fair and truthful with respect to the measure’s provisions.

But even if the group fixes each of the three issues DeWine identified in his Friday letter, they won’t be guaranteed to get his approval to move forward.

“I must caution that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary,” he wrote.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett

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