Despite a few major snags for ResponsibleOhio in the eleventh hour, it appears Ohio voters will get to decide later this year whether the state should legalize a recreational cannabis industry.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Jon Husted officially certified the group’s proposal, awarding it a spot on the ballot in the November 2015 election. The proposal is now scheduled to go before the Ohio Ballot Board next week for final approval.
ResponsibleOhio, which is seeking to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, reportedly spent around $2.5 million in order to secure the necessary signatures to ensure their controversial initiative received a voice in the general election. Reports indicate the group managed to certify 320,267 registered voters, which was nearly 15,000 more than was required by the state.
“We couldn’t be more excited,” Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, said in a statement. “Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens. By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”
Admittedly, the success of ResponsibleOhio’s initiative looked pretty bleak last month, when Secretary of State Husted announced the group was 30,000 signatures short of meeting the state requirement. The organization was given 10 days to come up with the difference, and they didn’t miss a beat accomplishing this. But then another obstacle presented itself—Husted hired an independent investigator to look into ResponsibleOhio for alleged voter fraud.
Nevertheless, the group maintained they had “zero doubt” that these complications would keep them from certifying enough signatures, and they felt confident that the initiative would “absolutely positively be on the November ballot.”
There are some concerns, however, that even if the ResponsibleOhio initiative wins the support of the voters this November—putting into place what has been called a cartel-like marijuana market—state lawmakers may kibosh the plan with another initiative destined for the 2015 ballot, which aims to ban monopolies. If this proposal passes, too, it would not allow the ResponsibleOhio plan to move forward.
According to a report in USA Today, if voters approve marijuana legalization in November, Ohio will become the most populated state in the U.S. to end prohibition.