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As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio

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Guest Author Tim Johnson

Guest author Tim Johnson is founder and CEO of Cannabis Safety First, a safety and security asset protection solution vendor based in Columbus, Ohio. When Ohio became the 24th U.S. state to pass adult-use cannabis legislation, life for the state's cannabis consumers and the companies that service them—or might serve them in the near future—changed forever.

Tim Johnson from Cannabis Safety First
Tim Johnson from Cannabis Safety First

As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio

Ohioans awoke on December 7th to a new day in Ohio history, the end of cannabis prohibition. The passage of Issue2 on November 7, 2023 was a landslide victory and created a new chapter in the Ohio Revised Code under ORC3780.


"Issue2 presents a new chapter of laws not guided by a new chapter of rules. Until legislative revisions are promulgated through the rulemaking process in Ohio, the language of Issue2 will set the foundation."

This new law will eventually be ruled under Ohio Administrative Code OAC3780, which will define the regulatory rules for an Adult Choice Cannabis Program. What does all this mean? In simple terms, Ohioans 21 years of age and older are now privileged to consume, possess, and engage in the personal cultivation of cannabis without criminal ramifications.


Pot Law Not Guided by Rules—Yet

Further, it presents a new chapter of laws not guided by a new chapter of rules. Until legislative revisions are promulgated through the rulemaking process in Ohio, the language of Issue2 will set the foundation for actions, participation, and affirmative defense clauses in this new state legal program.


Still not satisfied with the vote of some 2.2 million Ohioans, a handful of GOP senators and Ohio's governor set out to spread misinformation and fearmongering via local, social, and national media resources. This total disrespect to their constituent Ohio voters set off an avalanche of emails and phone calls from Ohio pro-cannabis organizations and activists spearheading several "call to action alerts." 

The flag of the state of Ohio
Buckeye State embraces pot

The resounding actions by the Ohio cannabis community saw many heading to the statehouse to share and present their input and testimonies challenging potential unwarranted revisions in a HB86 sub bill. HB86 redacted or altered the paramount language clauses that were important to the voters.


Ohio House of Reps Intervenes

As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio. These actions from the people resulted in a "HB86 sub bill sub bill" to reinstate some of the removed language. The Ohio House of Representatives intervened to recognize the wishes of Ohio's voters by introducing HB354 to be the final guiding mechanism to the full implementation of Issue2.


"The Ohio House of Representatives intervened to recognize the wishes of Ohio's voters by introducing HB354 to be the final guiding mechanism to the full implementation of Issue2."

The battle now is between the suggestive Ohio Senate language to suppress the will of the people and the House of Representative language wishing to respect the will of the people. While this battle plays out in the "People's House" between Ohio legislators, Ohio's cannabis community, and stakeholders, final rule provisions will likely not be in place until much later in 2024.


House Finance Hears Testimonies

As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio. In the meantime, the House Finance committee is hearing testimonies from opponents, proponents, and interested parties. Testimonies being presented share concerns of language clarification on personal cultivation, possession, consumption, expungements, monopolistic privilege, taxation, child safety awareness, municipality rights, and more. The language battles have been ruthless at times, with the sharing of misinformation, unethical input, and disrespect to voter desires.

Will politicians ban home grow?
Will politicians ban home grow?

As for the consuming cannabis community input they wish only to stop the criminalization and pejorative stigma placed upon them from the fallacies of the Reefer Madness era. Stakeholders wish to debate over real estate rights, fairness to the new market and preferential licensing. Opponents and legislators share concerns to which most have already been implemented in Ohio’s medical cannabis program or fears which were debunked in 2016 during the creation of HB523 Ohio's medical cannabis program as we know it.


Medical to Adult-Use Transition

As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio. The transition should be simple as there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to merging the adult program into the medical. The current landscape of brick and mortar cannabis facilities and the rules in place within the medical program should expedite this process.


"The transition should be simple as there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to merging the adult program into the medical program."

Future expansion of the Ohio cannabis industry should rest in a supply and demand process overseen by a single regulatory controlling board under the Department of Commerce. Utmost importance is to immediately create a pathway for those 21 years and older to use the current medical dispensaries and to implement a blanket affirmative defense policy for participation guidelines set forth in Issue2.    


Where is Ohio Now?

As the Pot Smoke Clears in Ohio. Where is Ohio now? Issue2 language, as stated, is the law of the land, becoming effective on December 7th, 2023. So, "puff puff pass," plant those seeds, and enjoy your consumption on approved private property. Let this date be known as "Ohio 420 Freedom Day." Further, continue to send your input to Ohio legislators and participate in hearing testimonies on HB354.


Thank you, Ohio voting constituents, for the YES vote on legalizing cannabis.   

     

In safety, 


Tim Johnson 

Cannabis Safety First


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