While we know that a degree of regulation is needed to ensure public health and safety, over-regulation – particularly when placed in the Constitution – only serves as an obstacle to future progress. We intend to place a basic enumeration of medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp rights into the Ohio Constitution and to collect signatures for a citizen-initiated statute, which would fill in necessary laws needed to regulate commercial production and sales.
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 voted on and placed directly 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, least it restrict rights.
In 2015, 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 place 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 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.
As a Constitutional amendment, it will give Ohioans the enumerated right to access and use whole plant medicinal cannabis to treat, manage or obviate disease, illness and disabilities.