Dec 7, 2023 - News

Ohio's recreational marijuana law now in effect

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

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Ohio's recreational marijuana law goes into effect Thursday, one month after Issue 2 was approved by 57% of voters.

Why it matters: State officials are considering changes to the law that could allow marijuana purchases much sooner than expected.

State of play: The new law permits those ages 21 and up to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in most forms and grow plants at home.

  • It also legalizes recreational sales, but that isn't supposed to start until Ohio issues dispensary licenses next year.

Between the lines: Issue 2 was passed as an initiated statute, meaning state lawmakers are empowered to repeal or amend it.

  • Legislators hurriedly worked this week to change the law before it took effect, but faced disagreement on how far the reforms should go.

The latest: The Ohio Senate on Wednesday reached a bipartisan compromise, which has the governor's vocal support, but the House of Representatives adjourned for the week without considering the bill.

Zoom in: The Senate-approved proposal calls for speeding up the sales timeline by temporarily allowing recreational purchases at existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

  • The bill would restrict marijuana advertising toward children, impose a public smoking ban, lower THC content for extracts and limit home grow to six plants per household, down from 12.
  • It would also raise the sales tax on products from 10% to 15% and shift the revenue proceeds to benefit county jails, police training, addiction treatment and a legal aid service to expunge marijuana-related offenses.

What they're saying: DeWine, who opposed Issue 2, says Ohio should work to implement a legal marijuana program that respects the will of voters while protecting public health and children.

  • "I think it's a very, very good bill," he said Wednesday at a news conference. "It's imperative that this thing get passed. What we don't want is a situation where the black market grows, and we don't want a situation really where people don't know what the rules are."

What we're watching: House members are expected to debate the bill when they return to session next week.

  • A bill signed by the governor goes into effect after 90 days unless two-thirds of lawmakers approve an emergency clause for it to be immediately enacted.
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