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Will Coronavirus Crush Ohio’s Marijuana Legalization Plan?


Mar. 16 2020, Updated 11:21 a.m. ET

A marijuana legalization initiative in Ohio is moving forward. However, the state might still face hurdles because of the coronavirus outbreak. In US states, marijuana legalization initiatives have been increasing despite the vaping crisis and the FDA’s hesitation on CBD products. In Ohio, marijuana reform advocates even put a marijuana legalization measure on the November 2020 ballot. However, the coronavirus has brought everything to halt worldwide along with the global market sell-off. Amid the chaos, Ohio has to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot. Will the state be able to get enough signatures?

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Ohio pushes to get marijuana legalization in 2020

Ohio made another push to get recreational marijuana legalization on the November ballot. The proposal named “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” filed the initial paperwork with the State Attorney General’s office. If voters approve the proposal, it will allow individuals 21 years and older to possess, purchase, and use up to one ounce of legal cannabis from licensed retailers. Individuals can also grow up to six plants for personal use. The proposal requires the state to regulate marijuana the same way the alcohol industry is regulated.

Attorney General Dave Yost had to evaluate if the petition’s wording is fair and accurate. He rejected the proposal’s language, which created a hurdle for legalization. Now, the group has to make amendments and resubmit the proposal. Later, the proposal will move to the Ohio Ballot Board for a ruling on whether it covers a single issue.

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Will coronavirus crush the marijuana legalization plan?

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, countries around the world have canceled all public gatherings including large events and conferences. Also, malls, pubs, gyms, and any places that gather large crowds have shut down. According to the CDC’s instructions, the US is following the same guidelines to help contain the spread of the virus. Ohio has to collect 443,000 valid signatures from registered voters by July 1 from at least 44 of 88 counties to qualify the marijuana legalization bill for the 2020 November ballot. Looking at the current scenario, getting the required signatures will likely be difficult. There’s still time if the virus gets contained and reduced in the next two months.

However, we don’t know if the virus will be contained or how long the lockdown will continue. Also, public fear might keep people at bay even after the virus is contained. Ohio might have a hard time collecting the required signatures before the deadline. Florida legalization failed when the state couldn’t collect enough signatures before the deadline. However, lawmakers in Florida will attempt the process again.

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Ohio has until July 1 to amend the proposal, resubmit it, and collect the required signatures before the deadline. Meanwhile, Mississipi lawmakers are making it difficult for the state to legalize marijuana. Lawmakers have developed new strategies. To learn more, read Mississippi Lawmakers Make Marijuana Legalization Harder.

Cannabis industry amid the COVID-19 chaos

The coronavirus chaos continues and so does the marijuana industry’s struggle. Along with other industries, marijuana stocks also had a hard fall. The challenges in the past few weeks had a negative impact on cannabis stocks that were dangling on the delisting trading price edge. If a stock trades below $1 on an exchange, it falls into the delisting category. Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), Sundial Growers, and Hexo (TSE:HEXO) fell below $1 after the market sell-off on March 2. Now, the stocks need to get their share price above $1 within 30 days or they will get added to the list of delisting stocks.

On March 13, Aurora Cannabis and Hexo stock closed with gains of 9.9% and 5.5%. Meanwhile, Sundial stock closed with a loss of 8.2% on the same day. Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC)(TSE:WEED) closed with a gain of 0.18%.

Stay with us for the latest updates on the cannabis industry.


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