Ohio Allows Adults to Produce and Possess Marijuana, but Nowhere to Buy It

On Thursday, Ohioans woke up in a legal gray area when it came to recreational marijuana use. Adults can now legally grow and have weed at home, but they can’t legally buy it.

During the evening of Wednesday, November 22, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine asked lawmakers to quickly set rules for Issue 2, the citizen initiative that voters passed. The state Senate pushed through a deal at the last minute, just hours before the law went into force. However, the Ohio House left without discussing it.

Rep. Jamie Callender said that there is “no drop-dead date” for putting in place a legal sales system. He also said that voters’ wishes about growing marijuana at home or letting people have it can be carried out.

He said, “I want to make sure we’re careful, that we’ve had enough time to think about it and deal with the things that don’t go into effect right away.”

Rep. Bill Seitz also defended the choice to end the session without taking action on the 160 pages of related bills that are still in the House. “We’re not going to agree to such a horrible idea in 48 hours without seeing it first.” “That’s crazy,” Seitz said. Putting together sales, taxes, and rules for cannabis needs time for lawmakers to work out all the details, he said.

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DeWine, on the other hand, was openly afraid that the worst could happen. He said that sales on the black market could grow or that marijuana products laced with fentanyl or pesticides could become easier to get. He said that the way things are now is a “recipe for disaster.”

The government had four months to act last year. Because Issue 2 was a law that a person started, it had to go to the Legislature first. The bill was put on the Nov. 7 ballot after the GOP-controlled Legislature did nothing. It passed with 57% of the vote.

Adults aged 21 and up can buy and carry up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants per person or 12 plants per household. With a 10% tax, it gave the state nine months to set up a way for people to legally buy marijuana. The money from sales was supposed to pay for administrative costs, addiction treatment, cities and towns with dispensaries, social justice, and job programs that help the cannabis business grow.

With only a few days to go, Senate Republicans wanted to completely change what voters had agreed to. This made supporters of the issue very angry and scared members of both parties in the House. Growing marijuana at home would have been illegal, people could only have one ounce of pot at a time, and sales taxes would have gone up to 15%. Also, social equity programs that help the marijuana business would no longer get tax money from it. Instead, most of the tax money would go to a general state government fund.

Also Read: Maryland City Addresses New Legalization of Marijuana in the State

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 28-2 to approve the DeWine compromise. It would limit the number of plants that can be grown in people’s homes to six. It would also keep the higher 15% tax on purchases and lower the THC levels that can be in cannabis extracts from 90% to 50%. There would be a 2.5-ounce limit on possession again, and plants could have up to 35% THC. The deal would also get rid of the state’s control over most of the income.

Democrats backed the bill in part because it had a clause that would erase the criminal records of people who were found guilty of having up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. That bill would also require packing that is safe for kids and ban ads that are aimed at kids, which is something the governor really wants.

Voters passed Issue 2, and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol or other supporters of it can always ask for a referendum if lawmakers go too far from that. Steven Steinglass, emeritus dean of the Cleveland State University College of Law and a top expert on Ohio’s constitution, said that this possibility should make lawmakers want to work with people who want to loosen marijuana laws.

He said that some of the moves being made now have never been seen before. “In 111 years, voters have only approved three initiated statutes, and the General Assembly has not changed, repealed, or messed with any of them.”

Senate President Matt Huffman said that the consensus bill shows voters respect while also addressing important issues. He said, “I’m against (legalization), but it’s the law.” “We don’t want illegal sales, or the “black market,” to take off.” Louis Tobin, executive head of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said that many parts of the new Ohio law can be put into effect right away.

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