August 2, 2015

Will ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative Make The Ballot?

August 2, 2015
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Says It's Time to Decriminalize Marijuana

ohio signThe ResponsibleOhio campaign needs 305,591 valid signatures in order to get its marijuana legalization initiative on the 2015 ballot in Ohio. The campaign turned in 695,273 signatures by the deadline, which if it had the signature validity rate of other successful marijuana legalization initiatives, would have been more than enough. However due to a historically low signature validity rate, the campaign came up short by roughly 29,000 valid signatures. Ohio election laws afforded the campaign ten more days to collect signatures in order to cover the gap. If the ten day window signature gathering effort had the same validity rate as the original signature gathering effort, that would mean the campaign would need to gather at least 69,000 signatures. Late last week the campaign turned in considerably more than that in hopes of getting on the ballot. Per the Dayton Daily News:

The campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio turned in more than 95,500 supplemental petition signatures on Thursday in a last push to make the statewide ballot in November.

ResponsibleOhio needs 305,591 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters. Election officials ruled that the campaign had 276,082 valid signatures in the first batch, leaving it 29,509 short.

ResponsibleOhio hopes to make up the shortfall with the 95,572 signatures submitted Thursday.

Josh Eck, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, said county boards of elections will be asked to validate signatures and return the petitions to the state the week of Aug. 10. State officials must finalize the November ballot by Aug. 25

Barring the most ruthlessly low signature validity rate, I think the ResponsibleOhio initiative will make the ballot. If so, the campaign will shift gears from gathering signatures to a phase that will involve courting Ohio voters. The ResponsibleOhio campaign will have to fight to PR fronts. The first is convincing non-cannabis consuming voters in Ohio that marijuana legalization is a good thing. The second front will involve convincing cannabis consumers in Ohio to vote for one of, if not the, most controversial marijuana legalization initiative in American history due to the fact that the initiative only allows ten entities in the state to grow cannabis for a profit.


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