Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Medical Marijuana Might Not Be on Ohio Ballot Until 2014

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM


Ohio’s leisurely trot toward legalized pot may not come as soon as some have wished.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office gave the OK last month for backers of the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment — who want to legalize pot for medicinal uses — to begin collecting the signatures needed to put it on the ballot. Exactly which ballot was unclear, though optimists were looking to 2012.

Now it appears such an amendment to Ohio’s constitution might not go before voters until 2014. The problem boils down to corralling free labor: The group will need to get about 385,000 valid signatures for the measure — and perhaps twice that number to offset mistakes and invalid signatures. Right now, the plan is to do it all with volunteers. So far, they’ve got 250 of them.

“Other ballot efforts that have succeeded [in Ohio] in a volunteer fashion usually had three to four thousand volunteers. Typically it has taken two full summers,” says Alternative Treatment spokesman Ryan Maitland. “We never claimed to have the ability to get it on the ballot in 2012.”

The volunteers’ first duty is not to chase signatures, but to find more petitioners — in part by pushing their website: volunteer@ohiocompassion.org.

“We’re going to be recruiting, training, and organizing first and have a lot of work to do,” says Maitland. He declined to comment on whether the group is seeking funding that would help pay for professional services to circulate petitions, which would expedite the process significantly.

Earlier this year it was rumored that Progressive Insurance CEO and noted cannabis connoisseur Peter Lewis asked Ohio groups to submit proposals for medical marijuana initiatives, presumably so he could choose one to finance. Lewis chaired the Marijuana Policy Project board until two years ago, and was known to help bankroll similar efforts through the organization.

Alas, it appears this will not be the year for such a boost to Ohio’s efforts.

“Because we are so busy in other states, we’re probably not going to be able to do any financial support for the Ohio issues,” says Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Project.

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