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Since my last article, a mere four months ago, I was lamenting Responsible Ohio’s crash and burn 66-34% defeat on Election Night 2015. Good grief! After a year of twists and turns and ups and downs and ins and outs, it was hard to believe that this $25 million-dollar campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio could fail so miserably. Some said RO’s loss was the end of marijuana in Ohio, some said just wait for something better in 2016, some said the election results smelled funny.

If 2015 was a rollercoaster in Ohio cannabis reform, 2016 portends to be even more bizarre. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at just the four months since RO’s defeat in CannaTime:

November 3, 2015:Election Day. Responsible Ohio badly loses its bid to legalize marijuana in Ohio. Stunned, RO’s raucous Executive Director Ian James declares in his election night speech, we’ll be back! Definitely on the 2016 ballot.

November 4, 2015:No, it can’t be true! Well, maybe it isn’t. Implausible irregularities in RO’s 66-34% loss are detected.

November 4, 2015:A clearly confident Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) claims the legislature will move forward with medical marijuana. To where? Who knows.

November 6, 2015:Despite losing, RO wins certification for its Fresh Start Act. RO foe, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, certifies that sufficient signatures have been collected to place it before the Ohio General Assembly. The statute would expunge the convictions of those whose offenses would have been legal had the RO amendment not crashed and burned.  

November 15, 2015:Legalize Ohio 2016, formerly known as Ohioans to End Prohibition, (LOTEP) details their plans at their Ohio State summit to get their Cannabis Control Amendment to the 2016 ballot. Go LOTEP! This is your moment. Enjoy it while it lasts.

November 18, 2015:RO Executive Director Ian James composes a conciliatory “Open Letter to Ohioans,” in which he promises again to be back on the ballot in 2016, this time with a free market plan. In the meantime, RO will press forward with the Fresh Start Act. The group circulates a series of surveys to see what Ohioans want in marijuana legalization.

The Holidays: Silence.

January 13, 2016: Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and State Representative Kurt Schuring (R-Canton) form the Ohio House’s Medical Marijuana Taskforce. Statehouse hearings to be held in February and March. The snail’s pace inches on.

January 14, 2016:Suddenly and without warning, RO dies taking the Fresh Start Act with it. So declares Responsible Ohio founder Jimmy Gould. Our condolences. (Or to some, glee).  

January 15, 2016:The fifteen members of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Taskforce are named, including guess who? Two former RO principles – Jimmy Gould and Chris Stock.

January 18, 2016: LOTEP President Sri Kavuru confidently claims continuation of his group’s quest for the 2016 ballot. 

January 19, 2016.Or not. Sri Kavuru resigns. Thanks Sri for your service and for your constitutional hack job, Issue 2.

January 19, 2016:The Ohio Senate announces its own listening tour to learn more about medical marijuana, stopping in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. With tour attendance by more than 500 advocates, framed against 20 years and seven failed bills, Senator Kenny Yuko will tell you that the Ohio House should have learned plenty. So pass one.

January 20, 2016:In come the outsiders. In a simple Facebook post, Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), indicates that this leading purveyor of medical marijuana ballot initiatives will work its magic in Ohio in 2016. Launches its political committee Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.  

January 22, 2016.LOTEP declares “full steam ahead”!

January 24, 2016.Or not. New LOTEP leadership is announced absent Sri Kavuru. Where is he now?  India.  

January 28, 2106. First Taskforce hearing. During his introduction, Taskforce member and former RO financier Jimmy Gould described how his $25 million loss last fall inspired his determination move medical marijuana forward in the statehouse. Ya gotta admire his temerity.

February 2, 2016.LOTEP broke. Steam exhausted.

February 5, 2016.Oh no, another RO? A mysterious never-heard-of-before investor-backed group called ARC Reaction says it needs $300,000 by February 15 to conduct a poll, $1.5 million by March 1 to begin a campaign and $3.5 million by April 1 to pay signature gatherers, to expend a total of $20 million to place marijuana before voters in the fall. Got that $25 million checkbook ready? You can’t make this stuff up!

February 15, 2016.Ohio Rights Group Vice President John Pardee, former ORG Executive Director Lissa Satori and former ORG board member Michael Revercomb are appointed to lead the all-volunteer army needed to collect a 200,000 share of the 305,591 signatures required to place MPP’s version of medical marijuana on the fall ballot. Get your pens and clipboards ready!

As of this writing MPP is quickly moving forward, albeit absent ballot language. Other mysterious ballot measures are still rumored to hang in the background. The Senate’s listening tour has concluded, although the House Taskforce hearings continue. No movement on legislation even while recent polling shows overwhelming support for medical marijuana as a constitutional right.

Since the last article, the seemingly the wealthy impervious giant has fallen. The foe itching to take its place ran out of both money and steam. New efforts have jumped to the fore, including lawmakers who are running to escape yet another constitutional challenge to their supremacy. Now, let’s put this in perspective. This rollercoaster represents only four months in Ohio CannaTime. Imagine the rest of 2016.


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