What is a Rights-Based Citizen Initiative and Why is it Important?

A right is a moral or legal entitlement that applies to all. In this sense, a right protects an individual  from persecution, intrusion and/or unjust interference.

Our best example of this principle can be found in the United States Constitution, and in particular, the Bill of Rights, which affirms our freedoms and rights. For instance, we have the right to free speech, the right to practice a religion and the right to vote. We have the right to due process, redress from government overreach and equal protection under the law. Although these apply to collective, they protect the individual.

So what is a citizen initiative? In Ohio, the electorate (the people) are allowed to draft laws that can be placed directly voted on and placed in the Ohio Constitution. This process is called a citizen initiative.

Once an initiative is drafted, it is reviewed by the State to ensure it meets certain criteria, including single-focus and that it is written in way that can be easily summarized for the voter.

If the initiative meets the criteria, citizens can then begin collecting signatures to place the law directly on the ballot, so voters can approve or disapprove the initiative.

If approved by a majority vote, the initiative is placed in Ohio’s Constitution and becomes law. It can only be changed by another Constitutional amendment.

Because an initiative amends the constitution, it is important that the initiative be just and fair to the individual, lest it restrict rights.

Last year, a group called ResponsibleOhio tried to use the initiative process to establish a monopoly in our Constitution that granted rights to 10 business interests that were not available to individual citizens. The initiative also placed extensive rules & regulations in the Constitution that only served the benefit of the interests.

This is an example of a business-focused initiative, and it was soundly defeated by the voters.

A rights-based initiative, in contrast, does not grant special privileges to business interests; rather it confers rights to the individual, much in the same way the Untied States Constitution grants us our individual rights and freedoms.

It was with this spirit that Grassroots Ohioans crafted a rights-based initiative, which confers the right of the individual to access medicinal cannabis for medical treatment and symptom management of disease, illness and disability.

Grassroots Ohioans’ initiative simply says that those with medical needs can use, possess and cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.


Mike MacGuffie

2 thoughts on “What is a Rights-Based Citizen Initiative and Why is it Important?

  1. So …am I correct in my understanding of the above article that the initiative provides the right to use cannabis to only the people who are ill? If so, who diagnoses the illness? Only a medical doctor? That is almost as bad as the last effort to legalize it. I wouldn’t go to a medical doctor if my life depended on it. I have Lyme disease which many doctors don’t recognize as a true disease and 75% of tests for it come back FALSE NEGATIVE..the pain associated with this is at times horrendous and I would like to be able to grow my own cannabis and use it to relieve that pain..I say JUST MAKE IT LEGAL FOR EVERYONE…period.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s