Adults 21 and older will soon be allowed to use cannabis under Ohio law, following voters’ approval on Tuesday of a new citizen-initiated statute. But there are still months worth of regulatory work before it will go on sale.
Issue 2, approved by voters in Tuesday’s general election, allows Ohioans 21 years and older to possess and use marijuana, and creates a framework for its commercial regulation. The issue passed, 2,183,734 votes (57%) to 1,649,339 votes (43%), according to unofficial election results from the Ohio Secretary of State.
As with all citizen-initiated statutes approved by a majority vote, it will take effect 30 days after the election, on Dec. 7.
How does the new law work?
The new statute allows Ohioans to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of cannabis extract. They will also be allowed keep up to six cannabis plants, or as many as 12 if there are at least two adults 21 or older in the household.
It also levies an additional 10% sales tax on cannabis products, on top of existing state and local sales taxes. Revenues would fund public safety, road improvements, drug treatment and prevention and investments into communities “disproportionately impacted by Ohio’s marijuana policy,” according to petitioners.
The statute establishes the Division of Marijuana Control within the Ohio Department of Commerce, putting the state’s medical marijuana overseers in charge of licensing and regulating operators and testing laboratories and setting rules for implementing the new law.
Among its other provisions:
- A regulated business caught selling to anyone younger than 21 will lose its license.
- New cannabis shops or testing laboratories won’t be able to go up within 500 feet of prohibited facilities like schools or public playgrounds and parks.
- The statute will allow cannabis cultivators to expand — up to quadruple or quintuple their size — to serve a widened customer base.
- Municipalities can approve ordinances prohibiting new cannabis cultivators or dispensaries from setting up shop (though they can’t oust or limit existing marijuana facilities).
- Landlords can prohibit smoking or home-growing at properties they own.
Even though cannabis will soon become legal for adult use, the statute will not prohibit employers from enforcing drug testing policies, or firing employees or turning away applicants for failing drug screens.
And just like alcohol, marijuana will still be illegal to consume in public or in vehicles, just as laws against driving while intoxicated
Below is the full text of the statute to be enacted on Dec. 7, provided by the Ohio Secretary of State:
What’s the next step?
Recreational marijuana won’t be available for purchase until well into 2024, while dispensaries are being licensed — a process that’s expected to take several months after the statute takes effect on Dec. 7.
In the following nine months, the newly created Division of Marijuana Control will be expected to distribute up to 40 new licenses for smaller cannabis cultivators and up to 50 licenses for new adult-use cannabis dispensaries. No one person will be able to hold more than eight dispensary licenses or more than one cultivator license at a time.
Even though marijuana will soon be legal in Ohio — both medically and recreationally — it’s still illegal under federal law. This conflicts with gun ownership laws, according to state experts, since gun owners are not allowed to possess or use marijuana under federal law, as reported by FOX 8 sister station WCMH.
A mandatory gun-purchase form by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asks gun buyers if they use marijuana or other controlled substances. Anyone who answers untruthfully on ATF Form 4473 could face up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the bureau.
Although Issue 2 enacts a new state statute, the governor is unable to veto as he could legislation approved by lawmakers, since it’s a ballot-approved statute.
But because it’s a statute, that means it’s susceptible to repeal or amendment by state lawmakers. That would work just like a normal piece of legislation, requiring passage of both chambers and the governor’s signature.
Lawmakers have voiced concerns that Issue 2 would make marijuana more accessible to minors and lead to more drug-related crashes, as reported by WCMH.
https://www.wkbn.com/news/ohio/ohio-okd-recreational-cannabis-next-steps/ Did the marijuana bill pass in Ohio?