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Will ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative Make The Ballot?


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.


About Author

Leah Maurer

Leah Maurer is the happily married mom of 3 young boys in Portland, Oregon. She is a co-owner of The Weed Blog and contributes regularly to the site. Leah also serves as the Branding and Outreach Manager for Yerba Buena Farms, the first recreational licensed cannabis cultivation farm in Oregon. A cannabis legalization activist, she hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.


  1. I care. Special interest groups shouldn’t have self-serving privileges written into the federal or state constitutions. I don’t want to set a precedent for buying constitutional amendments. Once they’re in place, their money will make it very hard to effect any changes that favor the general public.

  2. Budtender what’s wrong is that this is a cartel they will have full control where we as Americans should have the right to start our own business if we choose and if we want to have more than 4 plants or not wanting to have to pay to grow..we should have the right to do as we choose..this is not responsible and people like you who don’t know the whole truth behind the law is going to be the down fall of this state

  3. I’ve really been struggling trying to decide where I stand with this RO bill as an Ohioan strongly in favor of legalization. The way I look at it is, even if I don’t plan to go into the marijuana cultivation business I should have the opportunity to do so if marijuana is legal, just like I have the opportunity to start a vineyard or whiskey distillery if I choose to do so. The hypocrisy of this when comparing it to alcohol regulations when it’s in fact less harmful is completely absurd. Would I be content with my four plants and being able to go to the store and pick up an ounce without fearing legal trouble? Absolutely. However it’s tough to support a bill knowingly allowing a monopoly to develop that will suck a lot of the economic life out of this movement allowing the rich to get richer while the middle class only gets to reap the benefits indirectly based on what the government spends the tax dollars on. There’s talks of other legalization pushes aiming for the 2016 ballot that seem to allow more personal freedom and a more legit legalization. A part of me thinks it’d be better if responsible ohio didn’t pass and to be patient for another year so we can actually have our freedom and a little economic opportunity.

  4. Growing plants indoors is expensive in terms of equipment, electricity, and manual labor. Growing four plants at a time is extremely inefficient. I’d like to be able to grow a couple of years worth at a time and then not worry about it for a while. I also oppose home-grow licensing, which implies at-will inspections by agents of the government to make sure that you’re in compliance.

  5. Do you plan on going into the cultivation business? If not then does it really effect you that much? I myself would be happy growing 4 plants for personal use and just leaving the commercial side of it to the business people. Everyone is up in arms about a cartel but who cares! Unless you want to start a cannabis business just worry about what u can work with and move on

  6. Signature gatherers are paid by the volume of signatures they bring in. It’s money in their pocket whether or not the signatures are valid. Since RO has so much money behind it, I’m sure they were paying their signature gathers top dollar.

  7. I never thought I’d be confronting a marijuana legalization vote in my home state with such ambivalence. I’ve been a legalization activist for 40 years. It would, of course, be great to lift the shadow of involvement with the criminal justice system from all of my fellow cannabis consumers. OTOH, Ohio has had decriminalization of the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis since 1975, with possession not incurring a criminal record. This make the need for legalization less critical than in some states. My problems with this ballot measure are the creation of a permanent cartel of cannabis producers and home-growers only being allowed four plants, and then only after acquiring a license. When you can make 200 gallons of beer or wine without a license, this kind of restriction makes no sense.

  8. YES it only benefits a very very very few. Besides of course the mass population of pot smokers that would cease to be prosecuted in the state of Ohio.

  9. The issue of limited grow sites is a big concern and may cause this initiative to have minimal support. Why would voters want to support an issue that benefits only a few?

  10. It seems highly likely to me that the target voter has always been an Ohioan who doesn’t use cannabis, but isn’t opposed to its legalization.

    That same voter will consider two things before voting; how much money will the state save ($120 million/year on enforcement alone), and how much money will the state make, including both taxes and jobs?
    The cannabis legalization zealots have never been the primary audience for this.
    I believe RO figured they could get quite a few consumers by default, because consumers care first and foremost about being able to possess and consume cannabis legally, but long term activists who are offended were never part of RO’s plan. They knew going in that they wouldn’t get those votes.
    The same voters who approved the casinos, despite it being a so-called monopoly, will also approve this amendment, for the same simple reason, economics.

  11. Robert Williams on

    Responsible Ohio has to fight on TWO fronts, indeed. 1. They must convince both cannavis users and non-cannabis users that supporting this would be best for Ohio. And that’s not going to be easy since there are opposing groups with opposing balkot initiatives that don’t have enough support to get on the balkot themselves urging voters to reject this bill.

    Moreover, the 2nd front is just as important and wasn’t mentioned. The second front is the “anti-monopoly” bill that the republicans are putting on the ballot, that if passed by voters in the same election is designed to nullify the responsible Ohio initiative. Voters must vote yes to the one amendment AND no to the other. And the “anti-monopoly” bill will be written to sound like a very good idea even though it really restricts the will of the people to self-rule.

  12. Forth line from the bottom.Should be “two PR fronts”. Now says “to”. Thanks Johnny. Great article, read TWB every day.

  13. Illegible sign signatures should not be a reason to dismiss signatures because 25% of the people have signatures that other people can’t read this percentage is about 95% for medical doctors. I have had several doctors in my life time I have never been able to decipher any of their signatures! Legalize and move on.

  14. Article did not mention why the signature validity was so low, and how they are now taking it up with the Ohio Supreme Court to verify signatures that were not collected.

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