Ohio court: Wording of pot legalization ballot is misleading

Politics & Legal Posted on

Ohio's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that part of the ballot wording describing a proposal to legalize marijuana in the state is misleading and ordered a state board to rewrite it.

Supporters of the measure, known in the fall election as Issue 3, challenged the phrasing of the ballot language and title, arguing certain descriptions were inaccurate and intentionally misleading to voters. Attorneys for the state's elections chief, a vocal opponent of the proposal, had said the nearly 500-word ballot language was fair.

In a split decision, the high court sided with the pot supporters in singling out four paragraphs of the ballot language it said "inaccurately states pertinent information and omits essential information."

The court ordered the state's Ballot Board to reconvene to replace those paragraphs about where and how retail stores can open, the amount of marijuana a person can grow and transport and the potential for additional growing facilities.

"The cumulative effect of these defects in the ballot language is fatal because the ballot language fails to properly identify the substance of the amendment, a failure that misleads voters," the court said.

The court allowed the ballot issue's title, "Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes," to stand in a blow to the backers who had taken issue with the use of the word "monopoly."

Passage of Issue 3 would make Ohio a rare state to go from outlawing marijuana to allowing it for all uses in one vote.

The full text of the proposed constitutional amendment has nearly 6,600 words. It would allow anyone 21 and older to buy marijuana for medicinal or personal use and grow four plants. It creates a network of 10 authorized growing locations, some that already have attracted a celebrity-studded list of private investors, and lays out a regulatory and taxation scheme.

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