Elections officials in Ohio rejected more than 87,000 signatures among the 206,943 signatures submitted in support of an initiated statute to legalize adult-use cannabis, bringing the petition effort short of its mark.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced Dec. 20 it submitted the signatures and its petitions to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, whose office, in coordination with county-level boards of elections, validated 57.9% of the signatures—leaving the group 13,062 signatures shy of the 132,877 signatures needed to send the proposal to lawmakers.
LaRose informed the group of the shortcoming in a letter on Jan. 3, cleveland.com reported. The coalition now has until Jan. 14 to collect the additional 13,062 signatures.
Ohio-based attorney and group spokesman Tom Haren said he’s confident the coalition will gather the needed signatures ahead of next week’s deadline.
“We’ve got a veritable army of folks who will be out gathering signatures,” Haren told cleveland.com. “We view this as a blip in the process.”
Submitting more signatures than needed is routine for petition drives, as state officials cannot certify signatures of citizens who do not write their information legibly or who are not registered to vote.
Should the petition drive succeed by the Jan. 14 deadline, the Ohio Legislature will have four months to consider the coalition’s proposed statute, which aims to legalize the personal use, sale and possession of adult-use cannabis. More specifically, the petition seeks to allow adults 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis (or 15 grams of extract) and grow up to six plants per person or 12 plants per household.
If state lawmakers do not enact the initiative petition proposal into law as submitted by the coalition within four months, then the group could collect an additional 132,877 signatures (265,754 total) to present the issue to Ohio voters on the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot.