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The Long Road To Legal Pot

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In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the effort to send a bill to the statehouse for recreational marijuana.

Delta Variant Soaring

Over the past week, the state is up to about 6,000 new cases a day. At the start of the summer, Ohio was at about 200 new cases a day.

Despite that, there has really been no change in policy: no new health orders, no state mask mandates and no government vaccine mandate.

Ohio University is now mandating vaccines. They join Ohio State and most of the state’s other large universities in doing so.

Redistricting

The Redistricting Commission had a deadline of Wednesday to come up with a map for state house and senate districts. That did not happen.

Their next deadline is in two weeks. Democrats came up with their own map, which of course would help them. They criticized Republican leaders for not presenting a map for the public to see.

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Supporters of recreational marijuana have entered a new phase of their campaign to legalize it here in Ohio.

This is the group that was collecting signatures in 2020 to change the Ohio Constitution to legalize recreational cannabis, but the pandemic killed that plan. Now, the group doesn’t want to change the constitution, but state law. It’s called an initiated statute.

Voters initiate the statue-making process. They draft a law, collect roughly 130,000 signatures of registered voters and if they do, the proposed law goes to the state legislature. It has to approve it or reject it. Lawmakers cannot change it.

If lawmakers reject it or fail to act on it. Supporters then go back out and collect another 130,000 signatures of registered voters, and if they do that, the issue goes before voters in November 2022.

Supporters say they are going this route because down the road it would be much easier for the state to change the law if necessary, rather than change the constitution.

The new process also means the group has to collect 180,000 fewer signatures and changing the constitution requires a lot more petitions.

If passed, recreational marijuana would be legal for anyone 21-years-old or over. It would be regulated like alcohol. Distributors would have to be licensed and pay big fees to the state. Recreational pot would be taxed at 10% with money going to schools, addiction treatment and the local governments where pot businesses are located.

Snollygoster Of The Week

Roy Johnson, the coach and director of a Columbus non-chartered online school finagled his way into playing on national TV against a Florida powerhouse high school football team. Apparently, Coach Johnson "stretched the truth" to get his school, Bishop Sycamore, the game. Now, he reportedly is no longer with the school and state authorities are investigating how Bishop Sycamore is run.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.
Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.
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