The effort to get a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana for adults on Ohio’s ballot this year hit a snag on Tuesday, with the state’s Republican attorney general rejecting the summary language proposed by the group backing the measure.
Dave Yost, who became AG last year, wrote to advocates pushing the amendment that he was “unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful representation of the proposed amendment.” In particular, Yost singled out one section that “lists several findings and declarations that the amendment proposes to be made by ‘the people of the state of Ohio’.”
“The summary makes no mention of these findings and declarations,” Yost wrote in a letter. “Thus, it completely fails to inform a potential signer that the amendment elevates these ‘findings and declarations’ to a constitutional standard.”
The letter was addressed to Don McTigue, an attorney representing Tom Haren, an Ohio attorney, and Mike Hartley, a Republican consultant in the state capital of Columbus, both of whom are the chief architects of the proposed amendment.
The advocates filed petitions with Yost’s office last month to get the ball rolling with the ballot process. They have about four months, until the deadline of July 1, to collect around 443,000 signatures from registered voters.
Yost’s letter this week was in response to a petition received on March 2.
“It is significant to ask voters to make factual findings at the ballot box. A summary that fails to inform a signer of the existence of such findings and declarations does not fairly and truthfully reflect the amendment’s import,” Yost wrote. “Thus, without reaching the balance of the summary, and consistent with my past determination, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment. Finally, I recommend that the Petitioners carefully review and scrutinize the remainder of the summary to ensure that it accurately captures the proposed amendment’s definitions, contents and purport before it is resubmitted to this Office.”
According to Cleveland.com, the rejection “means the group must revise its summary language, collect another 1,500 signatures from registered voters, and resubmit its proposal to the attorney general’s office.”
In a statement to Cleveland.com, Haren maintained confidence that the group would get the proposal on November’s ballot.
“While the Attorney General’s letter is a temporary setback, we are still within our internal timeline to achieve ballot access in 2020,” Haren said. “We remain committed to giving Ohio voters the opportunity to legalize marijuana this year.”