Ohio Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Ohio?
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StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Ohio?

No. Recreational adult-use of cannabis is illegal in Ohio. The state began decriminalizing small amounts of possession in 1975 and has continued to lessen possession penalties since. Recent decriminalization reforms in major cities suggest the state legalizing recreational use in the upcoming years. Ohio’s last attempt at legalization in 2015 found significant support from the community and celebrities but failed due to criticism of the measure’s regulatory plans.

As of 2020, under Ohio law, possession up to 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor resulting in a small fine, with many major municipalities further reforming these penalties. Major municipal reforms as follows:

Toledo, 2015: Depenalizes all misdemeanor cannabis offenses, of possession or cultivation under 200 grams. 

Dayton, 2018: Eliminates all penalties for possession up to 100 grams. 

Cincinnati, 2019: Eliminates all penalties for possession up to 100 grams. 

Columbus, 2019: Lessens penalties to small fines for possession up to 200 grams. 

Cleveland, 2020: Eliminates all penalties for possession up to 200 grams. 

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Ohio?

Yes. Ohio legalized medical marijuana with the signing of HB 523 in 2016. After the state set up its regulatory system, with licensed growing facilities, testing labs, physician certification, patient registration, processors, and retail dispensaries, the Ohio Medical Marijuana program became fully operational in 2018. The first licensed medical marijuana sales were purchased in early 2019

Under Ohio law, patients with a recommendation from their doctor may purchase cannabis products via edible form, vapor, patches, tinctures, and oils, but smoking is prohibited. There are 21 qualifying conditions approved by the state medical board, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, and many more severe and terminal illnesses. 

Are CBD products legal in Ohio? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

What’s Ohio’s medical marijuana sales tax?

5.75%. Medical Marijuana products are not prescribed instead recommended; therefore purchases are subject to the state sales tax. 

Ohio’s Cannabis Timeline:

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist, was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth”.) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1975: Ohio becomes the sixth state to decriminalize cannabis

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins”.

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.  

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

2015: Ohio’s legalization bill fails. 

2016: Ohio legalizes medical marijuana with the signing of HB523.

2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. 

2018: Ohio’s medical marijuana program becomes fully operational

2019: Ohio has its first medical marijuana sale. 

2020: Major Ohio cities further decriminalize cannabis, including Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus.

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