Cleveland area insurance mogul Peter Lewis announced earlier this year that he was seeking proposals for a medical marijuana ballot issue for next year.
Now a group describing itself as a “core group of patients” is gearing up to pursue a constitutional amendment. Teresa Daniello of Cleveland tells the Columbus Dispatch she and other backers of the idea are confident they can gather enough signatures to put an amendment proposal before voters.
Fifteen other states already have legalized medical marijuana, mainly through ballot questions.
The “Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 would establish a regulatory system modeled after the Ohio State Liquor Control system.”
There would be an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control, plus a state division and superintendent to run it. Marijuana purchases would require a doctor’s prescription and would be subject to state and local sales taxes.
Qualified purchasers could buy 60 grams of marijuana at a time and possess and transport up to 200 grams (about 7 ounces). They also could grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use, under the proposal. Permits would be required to cultivate and sell marijuana.
Under current Ohio law, possession of 200 grams could trigger a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
To get a constitutional amendment on the ballot, supporters first must gather 1,000 valid signatures of registered voters to submit language to the attorney general for approval. They then can begin collecting 385,245 signatures – the minimum number to qualify for the ballot.
A formal proposal has not surfaced from Lewis, who is chairman of Progressive Insurance, the nation’s third-largest auto insurer. He has given millions over the years to marijuana-related causes.
Earlier this year, Lewis put out a request for proposals though his California attorney, Graham Boyd, for an Ohio medical-marijuana issue to “create a model for future campaigns in other states.” Proposals were to be submitted by May 15. Boyd could not be reached for comment yesterday.