Ohio Enters Legal Marijuana Landscape: Legislative Amendments and Path Ahead

Ohio Enters Legal Marijuana Landscape: Legislative Amendments and Path Ahead
Ohio has recently joined the ranks of states legalizing adult-use marijuana, becoming the 24th state to do so. The new provisions, greenlit through a voter-approved legalization law, went into effect at midnight. These changes permit legal possession and home cultivation for individuals aged 21 and above.

However, Ohio legislators are swiftly moving to modify the initiative. The Senate, on Wednesday, passed legislation aiming to adjust potency limits, taxation, home cultivation rules, as well as social equity and expungement provisions.

Among its proposals, the Senate aims to expedite legal sales by permitting medical marijuana dispensaries to immediately cater to recreational customers. Here are the specifics: Adults can now possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a maximum of six plants.

The voter-endorsed law subjects cannabis to a 10 percent excise tax, with revenues channeled into an equity and jobs program. Additionally, the law establishes a new cannabis regulatory agency, which will have nine months to establish guidelines for adult-use sales.

The Senate's proposed changes include reducing the number of allowable homegrown plants, increasing the excise tax to 15 percent, and granting medical marijuana dispensaries immediate access to the adult-use market.

Under this plan, expungements would be available upon request, and the social equity and jobs program would be eliminated. Instead, tax revenues would be allocated to law enforcement training, substance abuse treatment, and the state's general fund.

Tom Haren, a spokesperson for the legalization campaign, criticized the Senate's actions, stating that the imposed potency restrictions and higher tax rates could hinder competition with the illicit market and continue to drive Ohioans to purchase marijuana in Michigan.

The next steps involve the House Finance committee taking up its own marijuana bill. This proposed House bill aligns more closely with the voter-approved initiative.

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