Ohio GOP Lawmakers Debate Adult-Use Marijuana Priorities, Target June for Regulation Approval

In November 2023, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis with the approval of Issue 2 by state voters. However, the path to fully implementing the law has been marked by debates and proposed amendments from GOP lawmakers.

Over five months later, Republican legislators continue to discuss potential changes and regulatory updates to Ohio’s cannabis legalization law. Recreational cannabis sales are expected to begin in September, but this timeline could change based on legislative decisions, according to WCMH-TV.

Lawmakers aim to pass legislation that could expedite sales this summer. This goal hinges on Republican legislators finding consensus on the regulatory framework. The state’s Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) has already proposed a plan to grant dual licenses to existing medical cannabis operators, enabling them to serve adult consumers as early as this summer.

“I am, I would not say optimistic, but I am reasonably hopeful that we can get something done by June,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told WCMH-TV.

While initiating sales is a priority, there are disagreements on the specific rules needed before launching a recreational market.

The original legislation permits adults over 21 to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants per person or 12 plants per residence. It also imposes a 10% tax on cannabis purchases to fund administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries, and social equity and jobs programs.

The details of the final legislation remain uncertain. Lawmakers are considering changes to tax revenue distribution, home cultivation rules, and public smoking restrictions.

Ohio Lawmakers Debate Regulatory Framework Priorities

Speaker of the Ohio House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) emphasized the importance of building consensus among members, noting that revenue is a primary concern. “There are estimates, but we’ve seen estimates for other revenue sources, like gambling, that turned out differently. We need to know the exact tax amounts, how they add up, and the flexibility for local communities,” Stephens said.

Huffman identified public cannabis smoking as a critical issue. The Senate has passed a bill to establish home cultivation guidelines, but the House has yet to hold a hearing on it. Meanwhile, House representatives are working on their own bill and creating a bill to expunge cannabis records.

“As we go into the future, there will continually be changes and tweaks to recreational marijuana in Ohio,” Stephens remarked.

Huffman added, “Most reasonable people, including those in the industry, believe it would be better to have the law clarified.”

Despite opposing the voter-approved initiative, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has signed legislation to expedite recreational cannabis sales. However, his main concern is regulating psychoactive hemp-derived cannabinoid products. While legislation is underway, no formal bill has been introduced.

“It’s time for the legislature to move. We can’t do it ourselves,” DeWine stated.

Regarding the intra-party disagreements on revising the new cannabis law, DeWine chose not to comment extensively. He previously criticized the situation, describing the legalization without regulatory measures in place as “goofy,” and highlighting the lack of legal avenues for consumers to purchase recreational cannabis.


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