Efforts Continue to Expunge Marijuana Arrest Records in Ohio

Efforts Continue to Expunge Marijuana Arrest Records in Ohio

(Photo: WKRC)

Despite the loss of Issue 3 last week, the group ResponsibleOhio is continuing with its plans to expunge the records of marijuana offenders in the state with their “Fresh Start Act.”

RO recently turned in enough valid signatures to send the proposal to the Ohio General Assembly. Starting in January the Assembly will have four months to act on the bill. If they do not pass it, RO will have to gather more signatures to send it to the November 2016 ballot.

The “Fresh Start Act” itself would only go into effect if the offenses they expunge become legal — in other words, if marijuana is legalized in the state. ResponsibleOhio has already said it plans on coming back for an attempt at legalization next year. So, in theory, both legalization and record expungement could be on the 2016 statewide ballot.

Of course, the passage of Issue 2 last week in Ohio complicates what will qualify for the ballot in the future, greatly hampering efforts for legalization, whether medical or recreational. From now on groups in Ohio who want to pass any kind of reform will have to bend to the whims of the state Board of Elections.

What this basically means is that RO will come back next year with a greatly watered-down version of the legalization they proposed this year. Supply will be restricted even further and the regulations will be even more burdensome. But in the end, the people with the most money will have a leg up when it comes to entering the cannabis industry, just like it is and will be in every state.

Activists shouted down Issue 3 not realizing it was the best legalization the state of Ohio is going to see on the ballot for a long time. Sometimes you have to be careful for what you wish for.