Ohio marijuana

A few Republican legislators out of Ohio have taken action to file a new bill. This legislation would be to legalize marijuana in the state of Ohio. This bill comes as activists are close to completing the first stage of collecting signatures for a cannabis legalization initiative.

Reps. Jamie Callender (R) and Ron Ferguson (R) first announced their plan to push the legislative reform proposal in October. As well they spread a co-sponsorship memorandum to build support for the measure. Now they’re moving ahead with a formal introduction of the “Ohio Adult Use Act.”

This cannabis proposal would permit people 21 and older to purchase and hold up to 50 grams of cannabis. They would also be able to cultivate up to six plants. To which only three of which could be mature, for personal use. In addition, gifting up to 25 grams of marijuana between adults without remuneration would also be permitted.

Adult-use cannabis products would be taxed at 10 percent. After covering administrative costs, tax revenue would be distributed differently. Tax revenue would go to 50 percent to the state general fund. As well as 25 percent to combat illicit drug trafficking. And 25 percent for substance misuse treatment programs.

The state Department of Commerce would be responsible for regulating the new adult-use marijuana. Along with its current medical cannabis program and issuing business licenses. Which would be done through a new Division of Marijuana Control.

Ohio Is Working To Legalize Marijuana

Regulators would be restricted to accepting one retail marijuana dispensary license. This would be for 60,000 residents in the state up until January 1, 2027. Following that period, the department would be required to review the program on “at least a biennial basis” to see if more licensees are needed.

The bill does not contain explicit requirements to promote social equity by expunging prior cannabis convictions. And neither prioritizing licensing for communities most affected under prohibition. That’s despite Callender saying 2 months ago that there would be a road for expungements. He continued “for folks that have prior convictions that would be not illegal after the passage of this bill.”

A spokesperson in the lawmaker’s office mentioned that those elements weren’t included in this introduced version. Yet “it is still the plan to add any needed language on the subject once we get it to committee.”

“Conversations on modifications are continuing but with Thanksgiving here and the end of the year approaching, we wanted to get the ball rolling with the introduction,” he said.

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The Next Step For Cannabis Legalization In Ohio

There is at least one equity-related provision to require regulators to conduct a study. Which would be prior to issuing adult-use licenses. This is “to determine whether there has been prior discrimination in the issuance of marijuana-related licenses in this state, including whether the effects of marijuana prohibition have contributed to a lack of participation by racial or ethnic minorities in the medical marijuana industry in this state.”

If the research is not able to identify proof of prejudice, the department “shall take necessary and appropriate actions to address and remedy any identified discrimination when issuing licenses.”

Under the legislation, employers would still be able to enforce anti-drug policies. Furthermore without accommodating employees who cannabis use is legal with the state law. The measure would also expand the amount of acreage that licensed cultivators could use to grow cannabis. Specifically from what is allowed now under the medical marijuana program. Further, the bill incorporates a part that would have the state formally endorse a congressional bill. This bill would aim to reschedule marijuana that’s sponsored by Rep. Dave Joyce.

A separate state legalization proposal was also presented in the Ohio legislature. This legislation would likewise legalize the possession, sale, and cultivation of cannabis by adults. It’s being led by Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D), and it does include expungement provisions.

A recent legislative study discovered that Republican lawmakers in Ohio are more supportive of legalizing marijuana. Which is in comparison to the way their Democratic associates feel.

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However, leadership in the legislature, as well as Gov. Mike DeWine (R), will likely present obstacles for any recreational legalization bill that advances. House Speaker Robert Cupp (R) laughed when he was questioned about Callender’s legislation after its initial announcement, though he added, “Let’s just see where it goes. I haven’t read it yet.”

Callender said that although Republican legislative leaders and the governor are not yet on board, “there is more bipartisan support than most people would think.”

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Still, activists recently mentioned that they would collect enough signatures to force the council to consider legalizing marijuana. This was said to possibly be done by the end of November. And Weinstein stated he feels the citizen-led action could further build momentum for a congressional approach to ending prohibition.

So far it’s only been a few months since Ohio officials cleared the campaign to collect signatures for its measure. Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesperson Tom Haren said that the initial wave of signature gathering “will be completed probably about the end of November.” There’s yet to be an announcement as to whether they succeeded in that timeline.

The measure that legislators would then be required to consider would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and up. As well as possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Activists must obtain 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters. This will need to be accomplished for the statutory initiative during this first phase of the effort. If they make it happen, the legislature will then have four months to adopt the measure, reject it, or adopt an amended version. If lawmakers do not approve the bill, organizers will then need to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the proposal before voters on the ballot in November 2022.

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