Ohio GOP Lawmakers Debate Adult-Use MJ Priorities, Eye June for Regulation Approval

Ohio’s recreational market remains in limbo, for now.

Ohio became the 24th state to allow adult-use cannabis when state voters approved Issue 2 back in November 2023, though advocates and news outlets were quick to highlight GOP lawmakers in the state who immediately sought to amend the newly passed law.

And more than five months later, it appears that Republican lawmakers are still grappling with potential changes and regulatory updates to Ohio’s legalization law. While it could shift depending on how lawmakers proceed, currently recreational sales are expected to begin in September, according to a WCMH-TV report.

Lawmakers are looking into passing legislation that could jumpstart sales this summer, though it’s ultimately dependent on Republican legislators finding common ground to push the regulatory framework forward and approve it. Namely, the state’s Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) has created a plan to begin granting dual licenses to existing medical cannabis operators to start serving adult consumers early this summer.

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

While jumpstarting sales in the state is a priority, lawmakers are still in disagreement regarding what rules should be in place prior to a recreational market launch.

The original legislation would have allowed adults over 21 to legally buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants a person, or 12 plants per residence, at home where at least two adults reside. It would have imposed a 10% tax on cannabis purchases to go toward administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs.

It’s currently unclear exactly how the future legislation will pan out, though leaders have discussed altering tax revenue distribution, scaling back home cultivation rules and restricting public smoking, among other details.

Ohio Lawmakers Debate Regulatory Framework Priorities

Speaker of the Ohio House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) noted that many members have varying priorities, affirming that it’s “all about building a consensus.” Stephens highlighted revenue as a main concern, specifically knowing how much money the state could make and ensuring it’s going to the right places.

“There’s estimates,” Stephens said. “But we’ve seen estimates before whether it’s gambling or other revenue services that were going to be X and turned out they would be Y… What is the exact amount of taxes, what does that add up to, how does that compare, how much flexibility do local communities have?”

Huffman also highlighted the issue of public cannabis smoking, calling it the “most pressing.”

Regarding home grow provisions, the Senate passed a bill to add guardrails and immediately offer cultivation for residents, though the House still hasn’t held a hearing on the Senate’s proposal. In the meantime, representatives have worked on their own bill. The House is also in the process of 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 said.

“I think most reasonable people, including people in the industry, believe that it would be better to have it clarified in law,” Huffman added.

Despite his personal opposition to the voter-passed ballot initiative, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) previously passed legislation with the goal of expediting recreational cannabis sales, though he has indicated that he’s more concerned with regulation of psychoactive hemp-derived cannabinoid products. While legislation is in the works, lawmakers have yet to introduce a formal bill on the matter.

“This is time for the legislature to move,” DeWine said. “We can’t do it ourselves.”

Regarding the disagreement between Republicans in revising the state’s new cannabis law, DeWine previously said he’s “not going to get into that.” Previously, DeWine referenced the disconnect between legalizing cannabis without having regulations in place, leaving consumers without a legal avenue to purchase recreational weed, characterizing the situation as “goofy.”

1 comment
  1. The vote for homegrown cannabis was voted on and passed. Any attempt to alter it is against the Will of the people.
    You will be voted out of office.

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