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Marijuana is Now Legal in Ohio

15 November 2023 / Category: Blog

Ohio becomes 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana1 Ohio managed to legalize marijuana by passing a ballot initiative called Issue 2 on November 7, 2023. Issue 2 was a statutory measure that regulated marijuana like alcohol and allowed adults over 21 to possess, grow, and consume cannabis products.

Will you be able to smoke in public in Ohio?

Smoking marijuana would fall under the state’s smoking ban. That law prohibits people from smoking plant material in enclosed areas open to the public, with exceptions for outdoor patios, smoke shops and hotel rooms designated for smoking.

Public use beyond that is less clear. Under the proposal, using marijuana in “public areas” would land someone with a minor misdemeanor. But it also says property owners and “any public place” could decide for themselves whether to accommodate marijuana use. They would be able to do that starting Dec. 7, when the law goes into effect, but some of this could be subject to change.

Photo by Michael Bowman on Unsplash

How much marijuana will you be able to buy, possess and grow?

The approved initiative, which takes effect in 30 days (December 7th, 2023) will:

  • Legalize the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams (½ oz) of concentrate for adults 21 and over.
  • Allow the cultivation of six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per home. Someone who grows cannabis could give up to six plants to another adult user as long as no money is exchanged, and the transfer is not advertised or promoted to the public.
  • Allow the sale of cannabis at licensed dispensaries, with a 10 percent sales tax imposed.
  • Divide tax revenue up between social equity and jobs programs (36 percent), localities that allow dispensaries to operate (36 percent), education and substance abuse programs (25 percent), and administrative costs (3 percent).2

The initiative also created a Division of Cannabis Control to oversee the licensing and regulation of the adult-use market and allocated 36 percent of the cannabis tax revenue to a social equity and jobs fund. However, the initiative faced opposition from some Republican lawmakers and prohibitionist groups, who sought to amend or overturn some of its provisions, such as the tax revenue allocation and the licensing process3. The implementation of Issue 2 could also affect the neighboring states of Ohio, as some of their residents might cross the border to purchase legal cannabis in Ohio4.

The measure would also enact a 10% tax on marijuana sales, with the revenue going toward establishing a cannabis social equity and jobs program, which would provide financial support and assistance for license applications to individuals who have been disproportionately affected by past marijuana-related law enforcement. The revenue would also be distributed to municipalities with dispensaries, a substance abuse fund, and administrative costs5

When will Ohio Recreational Use of Cannabis go into effect?

The measure becomes effective in 30 days6, that is until Dec. 7. That’s when Ohioans aged 21 and older can possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The state has nine months to issue the first round of licenses to marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries. Those licenses will go to existing medical marijuana businesses and participants in a social equity program created by the law.

Keep in mind he Ohio Legislature could change any part of the law in the coming months. Dispensaries in Ohio also won’t be selling products any time soon, and it is still illegal to transport marijuana across state lines.

Top GOP Ohio lawmakers and prohibitionist groups push to overturn voter-approved marijuana legalization initiative or amend key provisions7, targeting a provision that would set aside 36 percent of cannabis tax revenues for a social equity and jobs fund. The Republican-dominated Legislature is also critical of the initiative’s licensing process and tax rate and may seek to delay or alter its implementation8.

What’s next for Ohio:

  • Ohio will become the fourth largest state with a recreational market, with a population of 11.8 million. Adult-use sales could reach $4 billion by the fourth year of legal cannabis, according to MJBizDaily9.
  • The launch of Ohio’s market will also likely put pressure on neighboring states Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, since some of their residents might cross the border to purchase legal cannabis in Ohio and contribute tax dollars to the Buckeye State10.
  • The legalization of cannabis in Ohio could also have a positive impact on the state’s economy, public health, and social justice. A study by the Ohio State University found that legalizing marijuana could create more than 117,000 jobs, reduce opioid overdose deaths, and generate more than $500 million in annual tax revenue for the state11. Legalizing marijuana could also reduce arrests and incarceration for minor drug offenses and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Are there any restrictions on where I can smoke cannabis in Ohio?