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House Joint Resolution 4,  introduced yesterday, would amend the Ohio Constitution to restrict amendments  to the Ohio Constitution that create economic benefits in favor of certain individuals.  Initiatives by the General Assembly would not face these restrictions, only initiatives by individuals.  An individual or group wanting to amend the Ohio Constitution to create an economic benefit would have to get voters to pass a Constitutional amendment allowing deviation from the “no special interests rule” for that particular special  interest.  Then the next year, the actual amendment creating the special interest could go on the ballot.

The impetus for House Joint Resolution 4 was Responsible Ohio’s marijuana legalization amendment that will likely go on the ballot this November.  ResponsibleOhio’s amendment creates ten grow sites which will be owned by ballot campaign investors.  The legislature would have to act fast in order to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.  The deadline for the General Assembly to get initatives on the ballot is August 3, but the General Assembly leaves for the summer at the end of June.

See Columbus Dispatch, Legislators move to block marijuana monopoly.  Representative Kathleen Clyde expressed concern that the language of HJR 4 is too broad and may have unintended consequences in inhibiting initiatives.   Professor Douglas Berman , Ohio State College of Law, wondered if it was even constitutional to have a constitutional amendment restricting initiatives.  Dean Emeritus Steven H. Steinglass , Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, spoke to what would happen if BOTH the no special interest amendment and the ResponsibleOhio amendment pass in November.  Steinglass thinks a court could rule that marijuana is legal, but the provisions creating the monopoly must be stricken.

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