Another investor-backed plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio is in the works. This time, the business owners are focusing on medical marijuana.
The proposed constitutional amendment — separate from a medical marijuana push by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project — would be written by marijuana business owners and industry professionals who contribute $25 million to the effort, according to a prospectus obtained by cleveland.com. The “industry-funded table” would also “call the shots” and “stand to reap the benefit of successful passage.”
The recreational marijuana legalization measure on last year’s ballot, Issue 3, would have issued the only 10 commercial growing licenses to investors who raised $25 million for the campaign. The “monopoly” aspect of the plan prompted opposition, including an anti-monopoly constitutional amendment, from across the state.
Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected the measure, but polls showed as many as 9 in 10 Ohioans support marijuana use to treat medical conditions. Marijuana Policy Project announced last month it would pursue a medical-only constitutional amendment this year. The national advocacy organization has led or aided in legalization efforts in dozens of states.
But a group of consultants calling itself ARC Reaction says activist-driven legislation has produced mixed results for the industry. ARC Reaction says it will have a better alternative for “industry players wanting to take a shot at owning a critical Midwestern market,” according to the prospectus being circulated to out-of-state investors.
Who is ARC Reaction? Leading the effort are three Colorado lobbyists: Gray McGinnis, Collon Kennedy, and Phillip Hayes. Their proposed campaign team includes Washington state-based firm Kully, Hall, and Struble, which created advertisements for Washington’s successful 2012 recreational marijuana initiative campaign.
Who would spearhead the campaign? The campaign would be co-managed by a Republican and a Democrat: Michael Hartley, a seasoned lobbyist and campaign operative who recently worked in Gov. John Kasich’s office and on his presidential campaign, and Aaron Pickrell, who managed former Gov. Ted Strickland’s gubernatorial campaigns and advised President Obama’s re-election campaign in Ohio.
Pickrell confirmed on Friday that the group is gauging interest for a medical-only initiative but declined to give details about the effort.
Who’s on board? The prospectus seeks commitment and contributions totaling $300,000 by Feb. 15 to move forward with initial polling. Investors are asked to contribute $1.5 million by March 1 to begin the campaign and $3.5 million by April to pay signature gatherers. The group estimates it would need to spend another $20 million to run a competitive campaign.
The campaign would need to collect at least 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters by July 7 in order to qualify for the November ballot.