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Voters to decide whether Ohio will become first Midwest state to legalize pot

Ohio will vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in November, state officials announced Wednesday.

If the measure passes, Ohio would become the fifth state and the first in the Midwest to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, in addition to the District of Columbia.

A pro-marijuana group, ResponsibleOhio, gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the upcoming ballot, Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a statement.

The group needed 305,267 signatures and got 320,267 after initially coming up short in June.

The amendment would legalize medical marijuana and the use of up to one ounce for adults 21 years or older. Limited amounts of home growing would also be allowed.

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“It’s time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November,” ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James said in a statement.

“Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens," James said. "By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

The measure would also establish a marijuana control commission to regulate growth, distribution and sales in the state. Ten locations across the state would be selected for licensed growing operations.

The measure would tax 15% of gross revenues for growing operations and 5% of gross revenues for retail marijuana stores, plus annual licensing fees.

Fifty-five percent of the taxes would be distributed to cities and townships and 30% to counties for infrastructure and public safety purposes, and the remaining 15% would go to the marijuana commission.

Follow @MattDPearce for national news.

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