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Recreational marijuana group expects to gather needed signatures

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(The Center Square) – Supporters hoping to allow voters to decide if recreational marijuana use would be legal in Ohio began their push to gather nearly 700 signatures in the next 10 days to put the question on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The 10-day period to gather the 679 valid signatures began Wednesday after Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a letter to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol late Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to thank the more than 222,000 Ohioans, spanning all of Ohio’s 88 counties, who signed our petition to regulate marijuana like alcohol. It looks like we came up a little short in this first phase, but now we have 10 days to find just 679 voters to sign a supplemental petition – this is going to be easy, because a majority of Ohioans support our proposal to regulate and tax adult-use marijuana,” Tom Haren, a spokesman for the coalition, said in a statement. “We look forward to giving Ohio voters a chance to make their voices heard this November.”

The proposal, if it makes the ballot in November, would legalize growing, manufacturing and the sale of marijuana for recreational use for those 21 and older. It would also add a 10% tax on the sale and limit the number of plants per person to 12.

Most of the coalition’s valid signatures came from the Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati areas, although the group collected signatures from all 88 counties.

A proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion rights in the state gathered more than enough valid signatures to place the amendment – “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” – on the ballot.

Organizers submitted nearly 500,000 valid signatures from 55 counties supporting the proposal.

The amendment says every individual has a right to make and carry out their own reproductive decisions, including by not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility, treatment, continuing one’s pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.

It would prohibit abortion after “fetal viability” except to protect the mother’s life. It defines fetal viability as when a fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures.

Both proposals currently would need a 50%-plus-one majority vote approval to become law, but a Republican-pushed Aug. 8 special election could change the needed-majority to 60%.

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