In response to last year’s resounding defeat of Issue 3 and subsequent attempts to take the issue of legalizing marijuana directly to Ohio voters, leaders in the House and Senate both created separate task forces to study the issue. Of particular note is the bipartisan Ohio House Medicinal Marijuana Task Force chaired by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and comprised of 14 additional legislative appointees representing a wide range of interested constituencies, including the Council’s own Lora Miller. The group was tasked with hearing public testimony from all interested parties and to conduct a comprehensive review of the issue of medical marijuana in the state of Ohio. The task force held a total of seven meetings, hearing testimony from more than one hundred witnesses, the majority of which were proponents of legalizing medicinal marijuana.
The task force culminated in the recent introduction of House Bill 523 (Huffman), legislation to legalize the use of medical marijuana and create the Medical Marijuana Control Commission to regulate it. There are also two new ballot initiatives that have been approved by the Ohio Attorney General and just need the required 305,591 signatures from voters in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to appear on the November 2016 ballot. The Council believes a legislative solution is preferable to a ballot initiative, because we have greater input on the drafting of the legislation itself and the implementing regulations thereafter. As you will read in the Vorys law firm client alert on this topic, House Bill 523 includes employer protections that are absent from the ballot initiatives. However, the Council continues to work with the Ohio General Assembly to strengthen those safeguards for our members.
As policymaking on the topic of marijuana legalization progresses, know that the Council is at the forefront, ensuring the interests of our members are considered. If you have any questions, please contact Holly Nagle by phone at (614) 221-7833, or by email at Holly@ohioretailmerchants.com.