Ohio Gets Ready to Legalize Recreational Cannabis After They Like What They See in Their Medical Marijuana Program

June 8, 2023 · Cannabis.net

Should a bipartisan bill receive approval from the Ohio Statehouse, individuals in Ohio who are 21 years old and above will gain the right to cultivate, purchase, and possess marijuana.

State representatives Casey Weinstein of Hudson and Jamie Callender of Concord introduced House Bill 168, also known as the Ohio Adult Use Act, earlier this month.

The proposed cannabis legalization includes a provision for expunging conviction records related to prior cultivation and possession offenses.

Weinstein expressed in a news statement that “adult use is beneficial for our economy, our justice system, and is the morally right decision.” The people of Ohio are prepared to legalize marijuana.

HB 168 would impose a 10% sales tax on adult-use cannabis products. Researchers from Ohio State University estimate that, in the fifth year of an operational adult-use cannabis market, Ohio could generate annual tax revenue ranging from $276 million to $374 million.

According to Tim Johnson, CEO of Cannabis Safety First, this bill “provides a pathway for individuals to access cannabis without facing punishment, job loss, or child custody issues.”

The proposed legislation would establish the Division of Marijuana Control, responsible for regulating both the medical marijuana and adult-use programs, replacing Ohio’s current Medical Marijuana Control Program. The division would be situated within the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Callender stated in a news release that by expanding Ohio’s successful medical marijuana program to encompass all residents, “we will not only build upon best practices from across the nation but also apply the lessons learned right here in Ohio.”

Twenty-two states, including Michigan and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use and purchase of cannabis.

Weinstein suggests that Ohio should take action before lagging too far behind neighboring states.

Legalizing marijuana in Ohio, according to Johnson, would alleviate the burden on the legal system caused by cannabis-related arrests and possession charges. It would enable law enforcement to concentrate their resources on combating more significant criminal activities and other pressing issues in their communities.

Clearing Criminal Records

The bill’s expungement provision tries to speed up the process for people who want their possession or trafficking convictions dropped.

According to Johnson, the fundamental idea behind this is to open up employment prospects and allow people to reclaim their capacity to obtain subsidies, buy homes, further their education, and exercise custodial rights.

Governor Mike DeWine passed Senate Law 288, a comprehensive criminal justice reform law, earlier this year. It became effective in April. One of the features of the bill precludes arrests and convictions for carrying marijuana paraphernalia from appearing on Ohio’s criminal records and gives prosecutors the authority to erase small marijuana possession crimes.

Coalition for Cannabis Regulation and Legalization

A similar initiative is being actively collected signatures for by the Coalition to Regulate Cannabis like Alcohol in order to be placed on the November ballot. The organization wants to collect 124,000 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties by the deadline of July 5th.

For anyone over 21, their proposal would legalize and regulate marijuana production, testing, and sales. Ohio residents who are 21 years of age or older would be allowed to grow up to six plants per individual or 12 plants per residence for personal use under this measure. In addition, a 10% tax would be added at the point of sale to each marijuana purchase.

It’s vital to emphasize that this proposal doesn’t seek to modify Ohio’s constitution but presents an initiated bill. On August 8, a question questioning whether the state constitution should be more difficult to modify will be on the ballot in the special election.

The executive director of the Sensible Movement Coalition, Priscilla Harris, is enthusiastic about the marijuana legalization legislation but notes that supporters prefer the ballot initiative. With a 2.5-ounce limit as opposed to the bill’s 50 grams, the ballot initiative provides additional protections for possession limitations.

Harris highlights how crucial it is for employers to protect their employees and patients, something she believes the present bill fails to do. Nevertheless, marijuana advocates are optimistic that legalization will soon become a reality in Ohio thanks to both the legislative initiatives and the ballot measure.

Harris is enthusiastic about the prospect of marijuana use becoming legal in Ohio because he sees a time when people won’t be punished for using marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

Expanding Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program

State Senators Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City, and Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, introduced Senate Bill 9, which would broaden Ohio’s medical marijuana program by adding more kinds of marijuana that are acceptable, as well as therapies for medical ailments, to the list.

Additionally, it would establish a 13-member Medical Marijuana Oversight Commission to monitor Ohio’s medical marijuana program. This commission would be in charge of the Department of Commerce’s Division of Marijuana Control.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, the Ohio State Medical Board, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy are in charge of managing the licensing and regulation of the marijuana program.

The Ohio Medicinal Marijuana Control Program reports that as of March, 355,368 people have registered for medicinal marijuana, and 168,741 patients have both an active registration and an active recommendation.

Advancing Cannabis Access and Reform in Ohio

Through proposed legislative efforts, Ohio is significantly advancing cannabis access and regulatory improvements. The Ohio Adult Use Act, commonly known as House Bill 168, seeks to legalize marijuana possession for anyone 21 years of age and older. This law contains provisions for eradicating prior convictions and implementing a 10% sales tax on cannabis products for adult use. Similarly, Senate Bill 9 aims to broaden Ohio’s medical marijuana program by adding more acceptable marijuana forms and treatments for ailments. It also suggests the creation of a special oversight commission to guarantee efficient program regulation.

These legislative initiatives demonstrate the potential advantages of legalization and show how marijuana is becoming more accepted in Ohio. According to its proponents, such reforms can strengthen the legal system, defend individual rights, and boost the economy. Ohio is ready to join the states embracing cannabis reform, establishing a more inclusive and progressive approach to marijuana policies as surrounding states move toward legalizing marijuana and public support rises.

Bottom Line

Ohio’s cannabis laws are about to undergo a dramatic change. The state is getting closer to decriminalizing marijuana for adult use and expanding its medical marijuana program thanks to planned legislation and grassroots initiatives. These changes might significantly increase tax income, lessen the burden on the judicial system, and give people new options while addressing social justice issues. Ohio can enact progressive and inclusive marijuana laws that reflect shifting attitudes as neighboring states legalize marijuana and public support increases. Ohio is prepared to join the states that encourage healthy cannabis usage and give their citizens increased access to this plant. Legalization seems to be on the horizon. (Full Story)

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