A national group’s campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio would allow up to 15 large-scale grow sites and an unlimited number of smaller-scale growers.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project, announced the new ballot language Tuesday, with hopes of putting the constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot.
If approved – and polling has shown support for medical marijuana after an effort to completely legalize marijuana failed last year – entrepreneurs will have a variety of ways to profit.
Five types of business licenses would be available, from growers who cultivate the plant through retail dispensaries that sell marijuana to doctor-approved patients or caregivers.
A large-scale marijuana cultivator would have to pay $500,000 for the right to set up a 25,000-square-foot grow site. Those willing to limit their sites to 5,000 square feet, who Ohioans for Medical Marijuana calls medium cultivators, would pay $5,000 per application.
Patients could grow up to six plants without getting a license. People with “debilitating medical conditions” would be eligible to buy and grow medical marijuana, including AIDS, cancer, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, seizures, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe pain, according to the proposed ballot language.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana projects 215,000 patients would use medical marijuana, based on extrapolations from peer state Michigan, where 2.4 percent of residents use medical-marijuana ID cards. That percentage of Ohio adults equals roughly 215,000 people.
The organization says it capped the large-scale licenses at 15, which would comprise about nine acres of cultivation, as a middle ground compared with Midwestern peers where marijuana is legal. It says the $500,000 fees for large-scale cultivators would help subsidize patient ID cards and other business licenses, as well as administration.
Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said the cap on 15 large growers isn’t a monopoly because the growers aren’t preselected like they were in last year’s failed effort. Plus, there’s no limit on smaller growers.
Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana.
Ohio lawmakers are considering what to do with medical marijuana, but the Marijuana Policy Project says Ohio legislators have had decades to come up with a plan and the timing is right. The group’s amendment would not allow the government to reduce a patient’s access to medical marijuana, but local governments would be able to ban or limit medical marijuana businesses in their area.
If a local government would ban retail stores, voters would have the chance to approve it during the following general election.
The group needs 305,591 signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.