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Recreational marijuana supporters sue state leaders over disputed petition deadline

Supporters of recreational marijuana legalization in Ohio have sued state legislative leaders in an anticipated dispute over whether a legalization referendum can appear on this November’s ballot.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Columbus in a belief that Ohio’s Republican legislative leaders will argue petitions gathered by the pro-marijuana group weren’t submitted in time to allow a November vote.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Jan. 28 submitted petitions on behalf of Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to the Legislature, giving it four months to act on the proposed law. If it does not act by May 28, the group can gather additional signatures to put the issue on the ballot, according to the lawsuit.

Senate President Matt Huffman has said the Senate won’t consider the proposed law.

In a series of emails that includes a supportive comment from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, legislative staffers wrote the referendum vote can’t take place in November because valid petitions weren’t presented to the Legislature 10 days before the Jan. 3 start of this year’s legislative session as the Ohio Constitution requires.

The lawsuit says there is precedent based on Ohio Supreme Court decisions that would allow for a vote this November.