Auditor, lawmakers may seek to curb marijuana legalization efforts

The Toledo Blade and Columbus Dispatch both ran articles this weekend discussing efforts by state auditor David Yost and many Ohio legislators to derail marijuana legalization efforts put forth by ResponsibleOhio. The group has gathered over 300,000 signatures on a petition to put the legalization of marijuana on the ballot as a possible constitutional amendment this fall.

Both Yost and the legislators expressed concerns with the initiative to legalize the drug, which would limit grow sites to ten specified locations in the state, as enshrining a monopoly in the Ohio Constitution for the owners of those sites. Critics compare the proposal to the 2009 amendment that legalized gambling in the state, but gave exclusive rights to certain entities to build the casinos.

According to the Blade, Yost's proposal would establish a two step process for "special interests" to be able to propose a constitutional amendment. This would require groups proposing to amend the constitution to obtain voter approval before doing so if the amendment would benefit an individual or certain group. The Dispatch reports that a committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission will be making a similar proposal to limit "economic monopolies."

The deadline to get any of these potential proposed amendments on the ballot is the first week of August. The Ohio General Assembly should recess for the summer by the end of June, however, leaving a tight time frame for action on this issue.

Photo credit: public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.