Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

Do you have questions about the ORG, the OCRA, cannabis in Ohio and more? Please e-mail your question to contact@ohiorights.org and we can answer it here.


 

OCRA: How many signatures are now required for the OCRA to make the ballot?

A:

Until the fall election, the number of valid signatures of registered Ohio voters required to place the OCRA on the ballot was 385,247. However, since voter turnout for the fall governor’s race was much lower in 2014 than it was in 2010, required signatures now equal 305,591.

The required number of signatures for ballot placement of proposed constitutional amendments in Ohio equals 10% of total vote cast for Ohio governor in the last gubernatorial election. For 2014, that total vote was 3,055,913, making 305,591 the number of signatures now required, which is 79,656 signatures less than it was before the election.  

The signatures for constitutional amendments submitted directly to voters must be filed with Secretary of State 125 days before general election or by July 1, 2015 for placement on the fall 2015 ballot. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

ORG: Does the ORG support “full legal”?

A:

Short Answer: First, we must first take the sick, dying and disabled off the battlefield of the drug war by allowing the medical and therapeutic use of cannabis to alleviate their suffering.  Secondly, polling is not sufficient to indicate that “full legal” can win at the ballot box; support for medical unquestionably can. 

Longer Answer: Comforting the sick, dying and disabled and ushering them off the “battlefield” of the War on Drugs remains the greatest urgency, and with continued intransience of government, a ballot initiative is still the quickest path to change. Cannabis is one plant with a variety of uses, so holistically, the constraints on industrial hemp production as healthy alternative source of foods, building materials, fuel and clothing must be removed as well. Exit polls from the ballot initiatives that passed in Colorado and Washington when compared to Ohio polling show Ohio demographics to be older and more conservative than voters in either of those states. These older voters express the least support for fully legalizing any and all uses of marijuana. Further, while recent polling shows as many as 87% of Ohioans in support of medical marijuana, just 51% voice a similar endorsement of general personal use. Granted, this is up from the 37% in similar question asked in a Columbus Dispatch poll in April 2013. By focusing on just the medical, therapeutic and industrial uses, the OCRA offers a solution to the most urgent needs, while taking a more holistic approach toward the plant that could help to heal both the patient and the planet.

ORG: Is the Ohio Rights Group healthy?

A:

Yes. The ORG is a 501(c)(4) non-profit advocacy organization that is in good standing with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office of Charitable Trust. Please click here and search on “Ohio Rights Group.” The ORG’s 501(c)(4) determination letter, received on 7/10/14, can be viewed here. The ORG filed its 990-EZ return with the IRS on time on 5/15/15.

ORG: Where can I review the ORG's corporate documents?

A:

The Internal Revenue Service requires tax exempt organizations to provide for public inspection three years of their 990 tax returns, their IRS determination letter and copies of the filing documents by which they attained their tax exempt standing. For the ORG, these documents currently consist of Form 1024 that was submitted to the IRS on 9/30/13 to apply for the 501(c)(4), a copy of the ORG's IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard) for 2013 and the ORG's IRS Form 990-EZ for 2014. All of these documents can be viewed at the ORG’s corporate headquarters at 1021 East Broad Street in Columbus upon appointment by calling 614-300-0529 or e-mailing contact@ohiorights.org. The ORG's IRS determination letter can be viewed here.

OCRA: Does the ORG support Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment?

A:

Most certainly, yes. We remain the proud sponsors that we have always been.

OCRA: Is the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment going to stay as is?

A:

Yes. Once a proposed amendment is certified by the Ohio Attorney General for statewide signature circulation, it cannot be changed in any way. An estimated  150,000 signatures have already been collected for the OCRA, almost one half of those required. We see no reason to start over.

OCRA: Are signatures for the OCRA still good even though it missed the ballot?

A:

Yes, signatures collected for ballot initiatives are in Ohio “evergreen,” meaning that they never expire. Despite missing the 2014 ballot, the estimated 150,000+ signatures collected so far count toward the now required 305,591, placing the OCRA signature drive almost one half of the way toward the goal.

OCRA: Can OCRA petitions be signed online?

A:

No, per the Ohio Revised Code (ORC 3519.051), petitions must be physically signed in person on paper using in black or blue ink.

However, while petitions cannot be signed online, they can be downloaded and then circulated for the collection of signatures. Click here to download a petition and learn circulating rules.

OCRA: Are signatures or petitions ever sold?

A:

No, absolutely not. All OCRA petitions and their signatures are stored under lock and key in anticipation of submitting them to the Ohio Secretary of State for ballot placement. If anyone has credible information to indicate that OCRA signatures have been diverted to any third party for any other purpose, please let us know by calling 614-300-0529 or e-mailing contact@ohiorights.org to the attention of attorney Don Wirtshafter.

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

A:

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)

OCRA: Why doesn't the OCRA contain more detail?

A:

It is purposefully vague because it is a constitutional amendment. We want to honor the intent of a constitution – to layout general principles – and not clog it with too detail like plant numbers, possession amounts and specific fines and fees, which are malleable over time as needs change.

OCRA: Will special interests control the OCRA?

A:

Short Answer: By the language of the amendment, the OCRA’s proposed Ohio Commission on Cannabis Control is charged with acting in the public interest, not special interests.

Long Answer: These features of the board of the proposed Ohio Commission on Cannabis Control were written into the amendment and give it the best chance of crafting rules and regulations that will be fair to all parties, and not over burdensome to some.

  • Includes on the nine-member Commission board: two patients, two farmers (growers), a physician, a licensed mental healthcare professional, a law enforcement officer, a representative of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and a representative of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
  • Made up of all Ohioans – registered Ohio voters.
  • Serves the public interest.
  • Upholds the rights to make medical, therapeutic and industrial use of cannabis.
  • Codifies regulations and ensures statewide compliance with them.
  • Comprised of commissioners with divergent disciplines as they relate to cannabis in Ohio.
  • Non-partisan. No more than four commission board members can be of the same political party.
  • Required to publicly disclose corporate interests (conflicts of interest).
  • Commissioners compensated like commissioners in other Ohio commissions.
  • Meetings are open to the public and a matter of public record.

Amendment Reference: Section 3 and Section 4.

OCRA: Will cannabis be taxed under the OCRA?

A:

Short Answer: Yes. The OCRA permits reasonable taxation of therapeutic Cannabis and taxation of hemp in a manner similar to other agricultural products.

Longer Answer: While pharmaceutical drugs and food purchased for consumption on premises (ORC 5739.02) are not taxed in Ohio, the state does apply excise taxes to specific goods like tobacco, alcoholic beverages and kilowatt hours. Ohio has a 5.75% sales tax, and depending on local municipalities, total sales tax can be as high as 8.75%. Sales tax is applied to herbs if purchased as plants (horticulture) and to herbs as dietary supplements (ORC 5739.0).

While the therapeutic properties of cannabis are well documented, the only cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical drug exempt from Ohio sales tax is Marinol®. Sativex®, a whole Cannabis extract, still appears to be years away from approval as a pharmaceutical drug and exempt from Ohio sales tax.

Thus, the “medical” framework that exempts sales from sales tax can only be applied to a limited number of FDA approved cannabinoid-drugs. Instead, the applicable regulatory framework for cannabis is that for “herbs.”

The OCRA does not name specific taxes or tax rates, preferring to leave this for the legislature or Commission to impose or repeal as circumstances change.

Amendment Reference: Section 2 (D)

PAC: Has a PAC for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment been formed?

A:

Yes, the OCRA (Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment) statewide ballot issue political action committee (PAC) was formed on 7/23/14 and given the registration number,  BI1588. From the beginning, a name change to the Alternative Health and Renewable Resource (AHRR) was anticipated and took place on 1/7/15 when Victoria Khan was named PAC Treasurer. The Committee can be contacted by e-mailing AHRR.PAC@gmail.com. You can view committee information here.

PAC: Why was the ORG PAC terminated?

A:

The ORG PAC (No. BI1569) was formed on 1/29/14 for the purpose of reporting the 2013 contributions and expenditures for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment to the Ohio Secretary of State. Once 2013 data was submitted and on the advice of legal counsel, the ORG PAC was terminated on 4/23/14, and the OCRA PAC subsequently formed. View the filings for this former PAC here.

ORGEF: Are donations to the Ohio Rights Group Education Fund tax deductible?

A:

Yes. The Ohio Rights Group Education Fund (ORGEF) itself is not yet a free-standing organization that is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, but plans to make application for that status soon. For the time being, the Fund operates under a fiscal agent agreement with the 501(c)(3) Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism (CICJ). Donations to the CICJ are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Through the agreement, donors can make tax deductible contributions to the CICJ, which in turn gives those donations to the ORGEF with the stipulation that it engage in charitable and educational projects as if it were a free-standing 501(c)(3).