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Government/Politics

The next move in the effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio

marijuana laced cookies at Denver marijuana store
Jo Ingles
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Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and legislative leaders say they won't move bills to legalize marijuana

Gov. Mike DeWine and Republican legislative leaders have said they do not want to pass any of the bills that would legalize marijuana in Ohio.

That includes the initiated statute that can be taken to the voters if lawmakers don’t pass it within the next three and a half months.

Tom Haren of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says he thinks there’s a simple reason why lawmakers don’t want to bring up his group’s proposed bill.

“I sort of suspect that the reason folks in leadership are saying they don’t want to bring our proposal to the floor is that they suspect it will pass if it gets to the floor. Otherwise, there would be no concern,” Haren says.

Haren says he’ll continue to try to change their minds. But that could be an uphill battle. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) says he doesn't like the idea of legalizing marijuana and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) doesn't seem ready to move the proposed initiated statute anytime soon.

Gov. Mike DeWine fought hard against legalizing marijuana back in 2015 when he was attorney general. And his mind hasn't changed on the subject. He says he won't sign a bill to legalize marijuana into law.

Lawmakers have four months from January 28 to pass the initiated statute, and if they don’t act, the group can gather another 132,877 legal petition signatures to take it to the ballot.

Haren says his organization is prepared to do that. He notes the group has passed similar marijuana legalization laws in 18 states and can do it in Ohio too.

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