Nov 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Ohio votes to legalize recreational marijuana

Illustration of a pattern of marijuana leaves filling the state of Ohio.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Ohioans have voted to legalize recreational marijuana usage for those 21 and older.

Why it matters: Ohio can now fully participate in a rapidly growing legalized marijuana market that studies estimate will generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue.

What's happening: AP called the race with early votes plus about half of Ohio's precincts reporting, with roughly 55% in favor of legalization.

State of play: The new law allows those of age to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in most forms and grow up to six plants at home, with a household max of 12 plants.

  • Sales will be taxed at 10%, with proceeds mostly going toward addiction services, communities with cannabis facilities and a "cannabis social equity and jobs fund."

Yes, but: The public's vote is not the final word on marijuana legalization.

  • This was an initiative, not a constitutional amendment ā€” meaning state lawmakers can adjust or even repeal the law.
  • State Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) says the legislature will review the law and potentially change its tax proceeds.

What they're saying: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which organized the ballot issue, said the result shows "Ohio voters are clear on the future they want for our state: adult-use marijuana legal and regulated!"

The big picture: The law will go into effect in 30 days.

  • If it stands without legislative interference, Ohio would join 23 other states where recreational marijuana is legal.
  • A previous legalization initiative failed here in 2015 by a nearly 2-1 ratio.

Between the lines: The result does not necessarily render the medical marijuana program moot.

  • The state will issue initial business licenses within nine months to cultivators, processors and dispensaries already in operation, with more to come as the demand for recreational products develops.
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