Updated: Nov 10
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Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal
On November 7, 2023 Ohio became the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use cannabis for citizens 21 and older. Positive voter turnout, at 57 percent, was the third greatest support at the state level in the history of American cannabis legalization—following Arizona (60 percent) and California (57.1 percent). This is after a failed attempt at adult-use marijuana in the Midwestern state in the form of Issue 3 back in 2015.
Although it is certainly not breaking new ground as the 24th state to do so, adult-use legalization in Ohio will produce the fourth largest recreational pot market in the nation (based on the state's roughly 12 million residents). According to Politico, "with Ohio, 53 percent of the U.S. population now live in a jurisdiction where anyone at least 21 years old can legally possess weed."
Ohio Recreational Cannabis: The Rules
Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal. Ohio's new law, which goes into effect 30 days following the election, may be revised by Ohio's predominantly conservative legislature. Thus, these are the rules as they stood on election day; they may (and most likely will) change.
Politico again: "Because the measure is statutory and not a constitutional amendment, lawmakers can amend or even repeal it altogether."
"Ohio's law provides for home grow. Each citizen can grow six plants, with a household maximum of 12 plants."
Ohio's legislation allows adults to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of loose-leaf flower and 15 grams of extract/concentrate. Like Michigan, Ohio's law provides for home grow. Each citizen can grow six plants, with a household maximum of 12. The home grow provision is a predicted target for modification or elimination by the state's lawmakers in Columbus before the law goes into effect.
A spokesperson for the law's sponsor, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), Tom Haren, said in a press release following the historic pro-cannabis vote: "Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue. Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide. Ohioans are being extremely clear on the future they want for our state: Adult-use marijuana legal and regulated."
Where Ohio Stands
Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal. Of the states that currently feature adult-use ("recreational") cannabis laws, 13 came about due to ballot measures initiated by citizens, including Ohio. Only two states established marijuana laws from ballot measures proposed by the legislature, while nine created pot laws via the legislature, with no citizen voting involved.
"Of the 24 states that currently feature adult-use ('recreational') cannabis laws, 13 came about due to ballot measures initiated by citizens, including Ohio."
Ohio joins its neighbors Michigan and Illinois by ushering in adult-use cannabis, each of which has been collecting tens of millions in tax revenues from their respective laws. This leaves Ohio's border states Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia holding the prohibitionist bag.
According to the Cannabis Business Times: "Overall, 25 of the 26 Republican state senators in Ohio opposed the referendum. And Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens—both Republicans—also opposed the legalization measure."
Tax Projections & Bans
Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal. The new Ohio cannabis law includes a 10 percent excise tax that is collected from consumers at retail dispensaries. This is on top of a 5.75 percent state sales tax and potential smaller sales tax rates at the municipal or county level. Some Ohio officials have estimated that this tax structure and projected demand for adult-use cannabis in the state will eventually (after five years) generate tax revenues of $276-$403 million.
Like California, Colorado, Oregon, and several other states, Ohio's law allows municipalities and counties to partially or completely ban cannabis business. However, cities in Ohio cannot prevent an existing medical cannabis dispensary from transitioning to adult-use.
"Some Ohio officials have estimated that this tax structure will eventually (after five years) generate tax revenues of somewhere between $276 and $403 million."
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb after the election: "Decriminalizing marijuana is a victory for all of us. State Issue 2's passage promotes safe use, reduces the barriers that disproportionately target Black and brown people, and finally ends the prison pipeline for cannabis use."
Before inhaling that celebratory toke, note that the first adult-use dispensaries in the Buckeye State won't appear until the end of 2024. And that's only if the conservative legislature does not shred it and, in the process, change such dates.
Tim Johnson On Issue 2 Passage
Tim Johnson is founder and CEO of Cannabis Safety First, a safety and security asset protection solution vendor based in Columbus, Ohio. His guest article, Tim Johnson on Ohio's New Cannabis Law provides insight and caution for Ohio's cannabis consumers following passage of Issue 2.
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