OCRA: Who chooses membership in the OCRA’s Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control, and why?


Short Answer: The five members of the OCRA’s Committee to Represent the Petitioners as representatives of We the People. To get a regulatory control program for cannabis going as quickly as possible and to minimize the influence of politics.

Longer Answer: The petition for a proposed constitutional amendment in Ohio must contain a committee of between three and five members who represent the larger group of those signing the petition, perhaps a half million Ohio voters or more. Once the OCRA passes, the Committee might also be considered representative of millions who vote for it, in essence, We the People, and not the political establishment.  

In the OCRA, the Committee also has the function of choosing six of nine initial Commission board members who will be responsible for establishing rules and regulations. This provision offers several advantages:

  • Enables the formation of the Commission as quickly as possible after passage of the OCRA,
  • Circumvents the stalling of appointments used by politicians to roadblock commissions they dislike,
  • Ensures that qualified candidates who understand this issue serve on the board,
  • Avoids the appointment of partisan cronies and political paybacks,
  • Reduces the political wrangling that goes into commission appointments.

An increasingly common tactic used by politicians regardless of party is the perpetual stalling of appointments to commissions and boards that they dislike. Just Google “stall commission appointment,” and you’ll find thousands of such references. If appointments to the initial Commission are left to partisan legislators or government officials, they may never occur or may find the Commission run by unqualified, or even hostile regulators. In addition, the state budget and other partisan matters often consume the first few months of a legislative cycle, which could itself delay the establishment of the Commission, if left unaddressed in the Amendment. For these reasons, the OCRA’s Committee to Represent the Petitioners – We the People  – can act quickly and in the best interest of patients, farmers and the public to implement Amendment aligned with its intent.

Still, the Committee’s selections of the initial Commission board members must conform to the requirements named in the amendment:

  • Appointments only apply to six of the nine initial Commissioners;
  • Three of the nine initial Commissioners are appointed by the governor;
  • After initial terms expire, candidates for succeeding terms will be selected by the Governor and approved by the Senate.

The members of the OCRA’s Committee to Represent the Petitioners can be found on the second page of an OCRA petition. Members include Mary Jane Borden of Westerville, Connie Everett of Columbus, Bob Fitrakis of Columbus, Linda Pardee of Amherst and Don Wirtshafter of Guysville. All are long-time Ohio residents and voters who are passionate about establishing a regulatory system for cannabis in Ohio aligned with the ORG Vision – What We Stand For.

Amendment Reference: Section 3 (B)