Ohio Leaps Toward Legalization

A whirlwind August makes it seem as though Ohio may be the fifth state this year to see retail cannabis legalization in the US. Ohio AG Dave Yost rejected one version of the cannabis bill earlier in the month but approved revised language in the bill late in August.

The new law will regulate cannabis like alcohol. Specifically, it would allow adults age 21 and older to grow as many as six plants in their homes and buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis.

What to expect from recreational cannabis sales in Ohio

The initiative will levy a 10 percent tax on cannabis sales. The money from this tax would subsidize addiction treatment centers in areas with cannabis businesses, but also greatly increase funding for public education.

Ohio is home to 47 medical marijuana dispensaries now. Most support the initiative, partly because it gives them preferential access to recreational licenses for the first two years of the program. The new law, if passed, would also support more social equity applicants with 50 new recreational store permits and 40 new licenses for recreational cultivation.

Cities and localities have flexibility under the initiative. They can limit how many cannabis businesses operate inside their borders or opt-out of recreational stores depending on the circumstances.

What happens next

Next, the Ohio Ballot Board must certify the bill. It will need at least 133,000 registered voter signatures before lawmakers will act. If they do act, Ohio will be fifth to legalize in 2021, after New Mexico, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia.

If they fail to act, an additional 133,000 signatures would need to be collected to land the proposal on the 2022 ballot.

In the US, legalization efforts are traditionally the realm of Democrats—but not so in Ohio. It was Ohio Republicans who helped move medical cannabis over the finish line in 2016.

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