COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – An effort to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use could soon be back on the ballot again.
A group announced Monday morning that they are backing the “Free Market Adult Consumption of Marijuana” ballot issue for November 2018, which would provide for the commercial cultivation, processing and dispensing of marijuana by persons 21 years or older. The smoking of marijuana would be prohibited in any public place, in places where smoking is prohibited and on (or in) any form of public transportation.
According to the group, the Amendment would allow anyone 21 years or older to cultivate marijuana, as long as they are doing it in a non-public viewable location where someone under the age of 21 cannot access.
The Amendment would also forbid anyone from operating a vehicle after consuming marijuana.
Voters rejected an effort in November 2015 with Issue 3 failing by a 2 to 1 margin. Lawmakers later legalized marijuana for medical use.
How that legalization has progressed is partially why the group has decided to do this now.
Jimmy Gould is the man behind CannAscend, which recently had its application to be a cultivator and distributor of medical marijuana rejected by the Commerce Department.
That rejection came after their application was scored by three evaluators, one of which had previously been convicted on felony drug charges. Gould claims a second evaluator may be compromised as well, but he provided no details as to how or why.
Because applicants like Gould’s had to pass background checks and could not have drug convictions on their records, he said it is unfair and deeply disturbing that the people evaluating them were allowed to have such records.
Since that story broke last week, the Commerce Department has seen political pressure to answer questions and even restart the selection process over again. It has refused to acquiesce on either front.
Gould said this is a blatant example of how the government has screwed up the effort to legally get patients in Ohio the marijuana they need for medical purposes and has destroyed any trust he and, he claims, other applicants had with the state agency’s ability to manage the program fairly.
As a result, he wants to legalize marijuana for all adults across the board and open the operation up to the free market.
This would mean any adult could grow their own marijuana for personal use.
They could even sell it to distributors if they get a license to do so from the state.
This free market approach is vastly different from what was attempted in 2015, which was plagued by accusations of it turning into a monopoly for a few wealthy individuals to get rich over.
This time around he says he has learned from the mistakes of that campaign and is ready to listen to everyone in order to sculpt a piece of legislation that will be passed by voters in 2018.
He is trying to cater to the medical patients who cannot leave their homes frequently, as they are apt to be forced to do under the current medical marijuana program. He is trying to cater to farmers by adding the ability to grow and sell hemp again, and he is trying to cater to casual users of marijuana who just want to self-medicate free of government hassle.
Gould is confident he will easily gather the 300,000+ petition signatures he will need to get this issue on the ballot.
In the meantime, he is asking for input. You can send your question or comment in an email to Ballot@GLA.Holdings.
Finally, Gould said his group is still 100 percent behind the effort to get people out of jail serving time on non-violent marijuana charges. He said he wants to see that happen, but logistically, marijuana has to be legalized before it can.