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Marijuana Legalization Plan Backers Plan Lawsuit Over Proposed Ballot Language

Aug 19, 2015

The Ohio Ballot Board has approved the language for three issues voters will decide this fall. 

But the fight over the wording of the issues is not over. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

The bipartisan Ballot Board easily approved the language voters see for the proposed change in redistricting for legislative districts – which will be Issue 1.  That issue was put on the ballot by state lawmakers, and has been supported by a variety of groups – conservative and liberal alike. The other lawmaker-approved issue is Issue 2, a proposal designed to keep monopolies out of the state’s constitution. Many Democrats in the legislature had voted against it, and the Democrats on the board were not happy…and voted against….the ballot board language. But it passed as well.

But when it came to Issue 3, the proposed constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana in Ohio, the fight took a bitter turn. Attorneys for ResponsibleOhio, the group that is pushing the marijuana legalization amendment that would put ten growing sites and rules for retail sales and home growing in the constitution, said the language the ballot board came up with is unfair.  In fact, lawyer Don McTigue says it’s so unfair that he will immediately begin work to take the language to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“There are some serious flaws in what was adopted, both in terms of what was left out, it’s not a balanced language and we believe that the language does not fairly inform the voters of what they are being asked to vote upon,” McTigue said.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is among the elected officials who have spoken out against the ReponsibleOhio issue, heads up the ballot board. He says he realizes those backing the ResponsibleOhio issue might not be happy, but he says the process was fair.

“They’re not the only side that matters. There are people on the other side of this issue. We took amendments from both sides and did our best to incorporate them in what we felt was a fair and impartial matter. I’m sure they would like to have it written according to what they’ve poll and think works best for them but what we are trying to do is to give voters the facts that they can make a decision,” Husted says.

ResponsibleOhio attorneys have until August 31st to get the issue before the Ohio Supreme Court but don’t expect them to wait that long. McTigue says they hope to file something soon - possibly as soon as the end of this week. If Issue 2 and Issue 3 both win on the fall ballot, the anti-monopoly amendment would negate the marijuana legalization amendment – and would almost certainly start another battle in court.