ResponsibleOhio gets next victory for marijuana legalization

In this photo taken Tuesday, May 5, 2015, a marijuana plant grows at a Minnesota Medical Solutions greenhouse in Otsego, Minn. The crop is coming in at Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of two manufacturers who will be supplying the state's medical marijuana. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – In just matter of days, Ohioans could know whether a marijuana amendment will be on the November ballot.

About a week, the group ResponsibleOhio turned in its nearly 700,000 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

And days later the organization is celebrating another step towards its goals to legalize the drug.

Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the group’s petition, known as the Fresh Start Act. The statute would expunge criminal records for marijuana convictions, if the drug is legalized.

In order for that to happen, Secretary Husted and the Board of Elections must verify if the group has acquired the 305,000 signatures, 10 percent of the voting electorate, needed to put their marijuana legalization amendment on the ballot.

2 NEWS checked the secretary’s office and are told those signatures are now with the Board of Elections for verifying.

By the end of this week, the board could give its findings on whether the group has enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.

But even if the group gets the clear, they could run into some roadblocks come Election Day.

Local legislators will have their own amendment on the ballot. It’s being described as an anti-monopoly measure that some say is looking to block the legalization of marijuana.

Ohioans would have to vote yes for marijuana to be legalized, but without voting yes for a monopoly then ResponsibleOhio’s plans could be seriously halted.

ResponsibleOhio’s Executive Director Ian James says sooner or later marijuana will be legal. And he thinks the momentum and the signatures are behind him and his group.

“Well it’s tough to say what impact their resolution is going to have on us,” James said frankly. “I think of what the simplest way to say it is you’re going to have the ability to vote whether or not to sustain marijuana prohibition in Ohio or if you want to legalize marijuana.”

State officials have 3 weeks from the date the signatures were turned in to turn their validity. They have nearly 2 weeks left to make that decision.

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