Oct 10, 2023 - News

Ohio ballot features recreational marijuana issue

Illustration of a marijuana leaf on a background with ballot elements.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Ohio voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults on the 2023 general election ballot.

Why it matters: Approval would make Ohio the 24th state to have legalized recreational use, superseding a medical marijuana program that has been in place and expanding since 2016.

State of play: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol organized the proposal, which would legalize cannabis for those 21 years and up. Read the initiative text.

  • Ohioans could possess up to 2.5 ounces in most forms and grow up to six plants at home per person, or a household max of 12 plants.
  • Sales would be taxed at 10%, with proceeds going toward regulating the program, funding communities hosting cannabis facilities, a "cannabis social equity and jobs fund" and addiction services.

By the numbers: Most Ohio voters (58.6%) favor legalization, per a July poll by USA Today Network/Suffolk University.

  • Support trends higher among younger respondents, with 76% of those ages 18-34 in support, compared with 43% of those 65 and up.

Yes, but: Legalization is not guaranteed in the long term, even if voters say yes.

  • Because this is a citizen-initiated statute, not a constitutional amendment, state lawmakers have the right to repeal or adjust the program after the election.

What they're saying: Republicans could feel emboldened to act against the public's wishes, with what they see as a favorable presidential election year approaching in 2024, says Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

  • He expects similar voting patterns on the abortion and marijuana issues, with some potential differences among suburban and religious voters who support one but not the other.
  • Kondik also described a "sea change" of public opinion in favor of marijuana legalization that mirrors the support for same-sex marriage, particularly among younger generations.

The other side: State Senate President Matt Huffman and Gov. Mike DeWine oppose legalization, with the governor calling it "a mistake."

Be smart: Watch a Spectrum News 1 and Columbus Dispatch forum on the issue, featuring voices in support and opposition.

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