Late Wednesday, the Ohio Senate took a significant step by approving the sale of recreational marijuana through existing medical marijuana dispensaries.
Today marks a historic moment for Ohioans as the state officially joins the ranks of those where recreational marijuana is legal. However, the celebration is tinged with uncertainty as the when and where of legal cannabis sales remain up in the air.
Last month, voters in Ohio approved Issue 2, an initiated statute granting adults aged 21 and older the right to use and cultivate cannabis. With this nod, Ohio becomes the 24th state to embrace adult-use marijuana, signaling a transformative shift in its cannabis policies.
The law took effect last week, but the journey toward practical implementation has proven to be more complex than anticipated. Lawmakers have spent the past week engaging in debates and discussions, attempting to fine-tune the law to align with the needs and concerns of the state's residents. As a result, some regulations may still be subject to change.
Late Wednesday, the Ohio Senate took a significant step by approving the sale of recreational marijuana through existing medical marijuana dispensaries. However, the House needed to follow suit, leaving the issue limbo. The urgency to regulate the new program was emphasized by Governor Mike DeWine, urging lawmakers to act swiftly.
Here's a breakdown of the current status of Ohio's new marijuana law and its potential impact on residents:
Ohioans aged 21 and older can now possess up to 2.5 oz of cannabis and 15 grams of extracts or edibles.
Legal sales may commence after some time. Unless lawmakers greenlight existing medical dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana, the anticipated start date for legal sales could be as late as next summer or fall. The Division of Cannabis Control needs time to establish rules on licensing, product standards, packaging, and more. License Applications will be available within the next six months, with the state having nine months to issue the first round of licenses.
Individuals are now permitted to grow up to six cannabis plants individually or up to 12 in a household with multiple adults. While seeds to grow cannabis plants won't be immediately available in Ohio, growers can source them online or from states with established markets.
Smoking marijuana in public is prohibited under the state's smoking ban. However, the legislation remains unclear on what constitutes a "public area." The state Legislature will likely refine the language surrounding public consumption in the coming months.
Driving Under the Influence
Operating a vehicle, bike, boat, or airplane under the influence of marijuana is strictly prohibited. The state's existing penalties for driving a car under the influence (OVI) apply to violations of these rules.
Local Government Authority
Local governments cannot ban marijuana use or home cultivation, and additional taxes on marijuana businesses are also prohibited. However, there is ongoing legislative discussion about potential changes to this aspect of the law.
Contrary to trends in other states, Ohio's new law does not automatically delete certain marijuana-related arrests or convictions. Instead, it establishes a social equity program to support business owners disproportionately affected by marijuana law enforcement. A Senate-approved bill for expunging convictions is pending approval by the House.
As Ohio navigates the uncharted waters of recreational marijuana legalization, the coming months promise further debate, adjustments, and potential refinements to the existing law. The dynamism of this evolving landscape underscores the need for ongoing engagement, communication, and responsiveness to the needs of Ohio's residents.
Ohio Becomes the 24th State to Legalize Adult-Use Marijuana