Ohio AG certifies petition for marijuana legalization issue

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A marijuana legalization effort in Ohio cleared a key hurdle Friday when the state attorney general signed off on a petition for the proposed constitutional amendment.

After an earlier rejection, Attorney General Mike DeWine certified ResponsibleOhio’s petition and cleared its summary language as fair and truthful. The measure goes next to the Ohio Ballot Board, which must decide whether the proposal represents one or multiple issues.

ResponsibleOhio foresees getting the amendment before voters this year or next. It would legalize the sale of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use and create authorized growing sites across the state.

DeWine, a Republican, noted that Friday’s action was procedural and didn’t address “the advisability” of legalizing pot. He and other statewide elected officials oppose the amendment.

ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander said the group is pleased.

“Voters deserve a thoughtful conversation on this important issue, and we are eager to continue this conversation in the coming months,” she said. “Ohio desperately needs reform, and ResponsibleOhio is working to bring that reform to voters this year.”

The Drug Free Action Alliance said the measure is backed by a “pot cartel” whose only motivation is greed.

“This starts and ends with constitutionally protected cartel monopolies owning the marijuana market,” said Columbus attorney Jon Allison, a spokesman for alliance.

The amendment calls for adults 21 and over to be able to buy marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, and to grow up to four plants at home. It also proposes 10 commercial grow sites around the state.

Backers of the amendment plan to spend millions to gather the necessary signatures to put it on the ballot and campaign for passage.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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