If medical marijuana in Ohio will be remembered for one thing in 2014, it will be the push to place the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment (OCRA) on the ballot. Hardly one Ohio television station, media outlet, newspaper or magazine could be found that didn’t carry at least one story. The issue was hotly debated. Thousands of volunteers offered their time and talent. Petition circulators collected signatures at dozens of events.
  But the bar for getting a constitutional amendment to the ballot is a high one, and to date, signatures for OCRA still fall short of the required 385, 247-plus. The measure missed the ballot.
  “Still” is the key word, though. Each of the 100,000+ signatures collected for the OCRA thus far is “evergreen” - still good - and will remain so, unless the signed address changes.
  Despite the obvious challenge, the Ohio Rights Group saw 2014 as a great success. Consider these accomplishments:

∙ Powered by People. Utilizing NationBuilder – the same digital organizing technology utilized by President Obama, Mitt Romney and Scotland – the ORG activated a county- and region-based support network that has been praised by politicos. Over 8,000 supporters have been segued into their counties for grassroots organizing that operates under the leadership of regionalized captains or managers.

∙ Strength in Numbers. Since its inception in early 2013, the ORG has attracted over 3,500 volunteers. If the $22.55 per hour average value of volunteer time were applied to them, even if each gave only one hour every other week (über volunteers work 24/7), their value would exceed $2 million.

∙ A Social ORG. The ORG’s social media has enjoyed impressive growth. Likes on the main ORG Facebook page almost equal 14,000, more than just about any other state-based, cannabis-focused organization nationwide. The reach of individual posts regularly exceeds 20,000. These numbers exclude dozens of ORG Facebook pages for volunteers, staff and affiliated counties and regions.

∙ Petition Progress! As of November, ~17,000 petitions for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment have been purchased; ~10,000 petitions are in statewide circulation; ~500 circulators have fielded petitions; ~4,000 completed petitions have been returned to headquarters; 30 counties have met their 5 percent minimum, and ~200,000 potential signatures remain outstanding. ORG volunteers achieved the remarkable feat of being the first all-volunteer force in history to collect over 100,000 signatures for an Ohio ballot initiative.

∙ More Media. The ORG was widely featured in the media, from NBC WTOV 9 in Steubenville, to Fox WXIX 19 in Cincinnati, to CBS WKBN 27 in Youngstown, to ABC WTVG 13 in Toledo and to CBS WBNS 10 in Columbus where the group was named “Newsmaker of the Week” in May. ORG spokespersons were featured on WOSU’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher” in January and on WTAM’s “Mike Trivisonno Show” in June. Notable print media included a cover story for the Lorain Chronicle and a multiple page, in depth exposé in Columbus’ 614 Magazine. All told, the ORG has accrued millions of dollars of earned media.

∙ We Won! Engaging the Opposition. ORG representatives engaged the opposition in several debates and handily won them all. In February, they vied with representatives of the Drug Free Action Alliance in a National Town Hall debate that aired in 50-plus national media markets. The DFAA conceded at the end. In March, the ORG won a similar contest to a standing-room-only crowd at Ohio University’s Baker Center Theater.

∙ A Healthy Organization. The ORG conducted a thorough review of its operation to ensure organizational stability, financial integrity and compliance with federal and state law. In July, it received its determination letter from the IRS unchallenged, affirming its tax exempt status under 501(c)(4) and placing the group in good standing with federal and state regulators.
  All of these accomplishments should come as good news to Ohio’s medical marijuana community. The popular Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment remains alive and well, having already accrued roughly one third of the signatures necessary for ballot placement. These numbers will continue to grow until there is a quantity sufficient to ensure ballot placement and campaign success.
  How can this happen most quickly? With the help of everyone reading this article. If each web viewer or hard copy reader gathered 100 signatures, donated $100 and voted, this job would be done – Ohio would join well over 20 other states that permit the therapeutic use of this remarkable plant!
  Vince Lombardi one said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” The ORG accomplished a great deal in 2014 – worked its heart out for a good cause. Victory must be near!

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