(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Competing marijuana legalization campaigns underway in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Supporters laid out language Monday for broad marijuana legalization in Ohio and began collecting signatures for a 2016 ballot campaign.

A spokesman for the Cleveland-based group Ohioans to End Prohibition said the petition effort began at the Opening Day baseball game in Cincinnati.

Jason Wagner said his group’s proposed amendment would provide more cannabis access than a competing proposal by another group, ResponsibleOhio. The broader Cannabis Control Amendment would repeal Responsible Ohio’s proposal should the latter make the ballot and pass before next year.

Wagner said his group’s proposal would allow virtually anyone to grow and use small amounts of recreational marijuana at home. People with HIV, post-traumatic stress disorders, cancer and other eligible health conditions could get medicinal-grade cannabis in higher quantities. The measure would also legalize industrial hemp and lay out rules for individuals to send out home grown marijuana to be processed into other products, he said.

“Anybody who wants to open up a business under our plan, can,” Wagner said. “Under our plan, businesses will succeed and fail as they would in any free market.”

He noted that certain felony convictions would prevent people from growing marijuana legally under the plan, and other protections would be put in place to prevent abuse.

ResponsibleOhio’s proposal calls for adults 21 and over to be able to buy marijuana and to grow up to four plants at home. It also proposes 10 authorized growing sites around the state. Marijuana bought at licensed retail stores would be taxed.

Ohioans to End Prohibition would allow adults 21 and over to legally grow up to 6 mature marijuana plants in a secured area at home and to possess up to 100 grams, about 3.5 ounces. Medicinal marijuana users could possess up to 200 grams, or 7 ounces, and caregivers could grow up to 12 plants.

Wagner’s group hopes to collect its initial round of signatures by month’s end.