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Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

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Updated December 8.


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.


Prohibition Fades in Ohio

Thirty days later, on December 7, the law went into effect. Astonishingly and against the odds, Ohio's 12 million residents gained the ability to legally possess, grow, and consume cannabis--despite the overwhelmingly conservative and anti-marijuana legislature in Columbus, the state's capital.


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."

The flag of the state of Ohio
Ohio becomes 24th adult-use pot state

Ohio Recreational Cannabis: The Rules

Ohio Cannabis: Buckeye Bongs Now Legal. Ohio's new law, which went into effect 30 days following the election on December 7, was strongly opposed by Ohio's Republican-dominated legislature. Senators threatened to elminate home grow and make other changes to the legislation.


"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.


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."

A budtender puts some cannabis on a tray to weigh it.
Adult-use dispensaries will begin to appear

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.


Lawmakers & Citizens Divided

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."

The statehouse capital in Columbus, Ohio
Will Ohio's lawmakers cut home grow?

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."


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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