State resolution could nullify voter approval for marijuana

(WDTN Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Voters may have say “yes” twice if they want to legalize marijuana across the state.

It is part of a new resolution passed by the state legislature which will compete with a proposed marijuana amendment.

“It makes it harder to amend the constitution of Ohio to create a monopoly like the marijuana monopoly amendment,” said State Representative and Miamisburg native Niraj Antani (R-District 42).

House Joint Resolution 4, as it is called, will require voter approval before it becomes law.

If passed voters will be asked two questions when it comes to legalizing pot: do you approve of a monopoly and do you want to legalize marijuana?

If a majority says “no” to either question, the amendment will fail.

“The idea is that the voters will vote no in step one and say we do not want a monopoly,” said Antani.

But groups fighting for the legalization of marijuana, like ResponsibleOhio, say it is the state’s attempt to undermine the amendment.

“Thousands of Ohioans will be able to own and operate their own retail, manufacturing, testing, and medical marijuana dispensary system,” said Ian James, Executive Director for ResponsibleOhio, shortly after delivering 695,273 signatures to the state capitol in favor of legalizing marijuana. “That’s not a monopoly. That’s an industry.”

But state lawmakers said voters will make that decision in November.

“I’m very happy that we are placing this amendment on the ballot and I hope the people will support it,” said Antani.

Both House Joint Resolution 4 and the marijuana amendment are expected to appear on the November ballot. Even if voters approve of marijuana, it would remain illegal if voters also approve HJR 4.

Groups petitioning for the legalization of marijuana would have to start the process from the beginning, including the gather of signatures from 300,000 voters in 44 of Ohio’s counties.

Shortly after state lawmakers passed House Joint Resolution 4, ResponsibleOhio put out the following statement:

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising that some lawmakers put their own political interests in front of the will of the voters today. Despite earlier claims, lawmakers have made it clear that HJR 4 is all about marijuana. And their irresponsible and hasty attempts to rewrite HJR 4 more than a dozen times in a matter of hours show their total disregard for our state’s founding document.

“Lawmakers voted today to continue failed marijuana prohibition, further Ohio’s dangerous black market, deny compassionate care to Ohioans with debilitating chronic diseases, kill jobs and stop economic progress and take away the vote and voice of the people.

“But today we heard the collective voice of 695,273 Ohioans who very clearly want to have a mature conversation about marijuana legalization in our state. People who want the opportunity to decide in November. We’re excited to have this conversation with voters and believe people will reject any attack on our fundamental right to democracy.”

Representatives for pro-marijuana group Better for Ohio said Tuesday the group has restarted the process to get a marijuana amendment passed.

Both House Joint Resolution 4 and the proposed marijuana amendment have been forwarded to Secretary of State Jon Husted.

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