Before we delve into the future of Ohio recreational weed, let’s talk a bit about the present and the past. Is medical marijuana legal in Ohio? Yes, it is! The Buckeye state became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana on June 8th, 2016, when Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523. Following licensing delays, Ohio finally implemented the bill in 2019. The push for the legalization of Ohio recreational weed is gathering steam, but will Ohio legalize weed for recreational use? We can’t say for sure, but the future looks promising.
Medical Marijuana to Recreational Marijuana
To begin with, the legalization of medical marijuana is often the first step to full-scale legalization. Most of the 18 states who have legalized recreational weed started by legalizing medical marijuana. The medical marijuana industry in Ohio is flourishing with high demand, and the public sentiment towards the legalization of Ohio recreational weed is positive.
While the effort to legalize Ohio recreational weed at the state level is ongoing, Ohioans are already taking matters into their hands at the local level. So far, efforts to decriminalize marijuana at the local level have met with resounding success. During the 2020 election, voters in four cities approved measures to decriminalize cannabis.
These trends show that Ohioans are ready to replace marijuana prohibition with marijuana legalization. This measure will bring the trade under the umbrella of regulation and taxation where the law can protect both buyers and sellers.
The Path to Legalization
Presently, there are two separate efforts to legalize Ohio recreational weed — different paths but the same destination. One is through the traditional legislative process and the other through an initiated statute by a group called Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. Both measures aim to legalize recreational cannabis for anyone above the age of 21.
Ohio Recreational Weed 2021 – The Initiated Statute
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol intends to collect 130,000 petition signatures in support of legalization. With this number, they can bring the number before the legislature. (ghgossip.com) If they get the required number of signatures, the legislature will have four months to pass or reject the bill.
- If rejected, the group will need to generate an additional 130,000 signatures supporting Ohio recreational weed.
- In the event that they get the votes, Ohioans will have the opportunity to vote on Ohio recreational marijuana legalization in the 2022 general election.
What Ohioans Have to Say
According to a spokesman for the coalition, Tom Haren, they are confident of getting positive results. “We’re actually confident that we’re going to get it passed through the General Assembly. We’re laser-focused on doing that,” he said. “We think that when the legislators look at our proposal when they talk to their voters and once we’re able to sit down and explain to them that this is something that’s coming one way or another. The question is, really, ‘are bureaucrats in D.C. going to make this decision, or are Ohioans going to make this decision?’ We expect that they’ll support our proposal.”
According to Haren, the coalition’s proposal drew upon Ohio’s current medical marijuana legislation and incorporated best practices from other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Under the proposal, Ohio will levy recreational marijuana with a 10 percent tax rate. Haren estimates that with a 10% tax rate, recreational marijuana can generate around $400 million in tax revenue for the state. In its infancy, the industry could generate up to $81 million in tax revenue.
For the coalition, the benefits go beyond just the tax revenue; its proposal contains significant social provisions. “We have robust social provisions that provide funding to social equity efforts and funding to local municipalities, funding to fight substance abuse and drug addiction,” Haren said. “We think we’ve hit all of the right boxes when it comes to enacting an adult-use framework.”
According to the initiated statute, the state will use 36% of the tax on Ohio marijuana to create the Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Fund. This assists people who meet specific criteria to help them get into the recreational marijuana industry. The state will also use the tax to fund education, road and bridges maintenance, and fund marijuana research.
Ohio Recreational Weed 2021 – The Legislative Process
Apart from citizen efforts via the initiated statute, Ohio lawmakers are also trying to legalize Ohio recreational marijuana. Earlier this year, two Democratic lawmakers drafted a bill that would legalize and regulate sales for both personal and commercial cultivation of marijuana.
Under the propositions of the bill by Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Terrence UpChurch, (D-Cleveland), Drug-related convicts with nonviolent, low-level marijuana convictions could have their records sealed.
According to Weinstein, Ohio needs to build on its medical marijuana program and regulate recreational marijuana. He said, “Right now, the reality is if Ohio doesn’t act, we are falling behind.” He expressed confidence in the readiness of Ohioans to legalize marijuana and the tax revenue it would generate. “I think the time is right. The people are ready, and it’s so beneficial in terms of revenues that we can drive back into communities and improve lives. For Ohioans, it just made a lot of sense,” Weinstein said.
Recent MMJ Proposals
As recently as October 2021, there has been another legislative charge towards the legalization of Ohio recreational marijuana. Republican lawmakers Rep. Jamie Callender (R., Concord) and Rep. Ron Ferguson (R., Wintersville) have rolled out a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio. Under the terms of the proposal, individuals will be allowed to grow up to six plants. However, only two can be blooming at a time, and they must be for personal use or for sharing with other 21+ household members. The infrastructure built on the existing value chain of medical marijuana will handle the increased demand from legalizing Ohio recreational weed.
The Callender-Ferguson proposal would impose a 10 percent sales tax on cannabis products. Twenty-five percent of the revenue generated would go to law enforcement. Another 25 percent goes to mental health and addiction treatment. The state will expunge past convictions for marijuana-related offenses and prohibit denying licenses for marijuana-related businesses to individuals with marijuana-related criminal records.
Supporters of the bill hope to introduce it by Thanksgiving.
The Future of Ohio Marijuana
Is Ohio going to legalize weed for recreational use? With citizen efforts and bills from both Republican and Democratic parties to legalize Ohio recreational weed, the future is bright. Legalization seems to be only a matter of time. This is not to say that the road to legalization will be easy, as we expect challenges. However, with this much appetite for legalization, the movers will meet those challenges head-on.
Let Elevate Take Care of Your Marijuana Needs
If you have questions such as “Is medical marijuana legal in Ohio?”, “What is the future of recreational marijuana in Ohio?”, you’ve come to the right place. At Elevate Holistics, we anticipate your needs and questions, and we have solutions and answers ready. All you have to do is ask!
Elevate Holistics is a telehealth platform with a firm belief in the healing powers of marijuana, and that access shouldn’t be a barrier to these benefits. If you want to get your Ohio medical marijuana card or you need links to licensed dispensaries, we’ve got you covered. We’re just a click away.
Book an appointment below to get started.