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After Initial Rejection, Ohio AG Certifies Marijuana Legalization Law, But the Damage May Already Be Done

By: Mira Baylson, Meghan Stoppel, and Gianna Puccinelli

Marijuana legalization activists have finally won the support of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R).  On Friday August 20, AG Yost approved summary language in a petition submission for a proposed law, the “Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis,” penned by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (the “Coalition”).  The proposed law will permit individuals over the age of 21 to buy, possess, grow and use marijuana, among other things.

As previously reported, AG Yost initially rejected the Coalition’s summary language. This constituted a significant setback in the proposed law’s path to enactment, as it allowed AG Yost to signal concerns with the proposed law to other entities like the Ohio Ballot Board and the Ohio Legislature.  While it remains to be seen whether the Ballot Board will identify the same issues raised by the AG, the damage may already be done.  The proposed law will undoubtedly face a great deal of scrutiny going forward.

So what lessons can be drawn from the Coalition’s struggles with AG Yost? Groups attempting to get a proposed law through a state legislature or onto the ballot should strive to make an ally of the AG from the outset.  By maintaining an open dialogue with the AG’s office, they will gain a better understanding of what the AG is looking for in summary petitions. When groups invest in those conversations prior to submitting specific proposals, they can avoid a more public damning of the proposed law and the creation of further obstacles to enactment.