COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - The Ohio Ballot Board has certified the Fresh Start Act petition.
The "Fresh Start Act" is an initiated statue proposing the review and expungement of criminal records for people with past marijuana convictions if the crime is no longer illegal after the passage of ResponsibleOhio's Marijuana Legalization Amendment.
"Today marks yet another step toward doing what is right for all Ohioans," said ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James. "Marijuana legalization is an important priority that voters will have the opportunity to decide this year, but that by itself is not enough. The Fresh Start Act will keep Ohio moving forward by offering folks the clean slate they deserve."
ResponsibleOhio now must collect approximately 92,000 valid signatures by the end of 2015. If enough valid signatures are collected, the issue will go before the Ohio legislature for consideration next year. Should the legislature refuse to act within the first four months of 2016, ResponsibleOhio will collect another 92,000 signatures and ask Ohioans to consider the proposal on the November 2016 ballot.
"We are pleased that the Ballot Board has enabled us to move forward with gathering signatures for the Fresh Start Act. When marijuana becomes legal in Ohio, enacting the Fresh Start Act will be the next major milestone we must reach to right the wrongs of failed marijuana prohibition," said James.
Even though Ohio statewide has reclassified marijuana possession as a misdemeanor offense, dozens of local governments have passed tougher criminal rules. An American Bar Association study found that a single misdemeanor conviction for marijuana can have hundreds of consequences, including the inability to find employment, obtain public housing and loss of eligibility for financial aid for college.
ResponsibleOhio recently submitted nearly 700,000 signatures for the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, which will be on the November 2015 ballot, pending certification of these signatures by the Ohio Secretary of State. The proposal would legalize marijuana in Ohio for personal use by adults age 21 and older, as well as for medical use.