Ohio becomes 24th state to legalize for adult-use
Ohioans spoke loudly today in 2023’s state election, passing* Issue 2 to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, with a little over half of voters passing the measure. When will citizens who don’t possess a state medical marijuana card have access to dispensaries?
Issue 2: What Does it Mean for Ohioans?
This year, Ohioans voted for legalized adult-use cannabis. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured a spot on the ballot after collecting and verifying 127,772 signatures in August to be placed on the November ballot. This is only the second time in the last twenty years that a group has been successful at getting this issue on the ballot.
When Will Ohio’s Adult Use Program Begin?
As an initiated statute, the law will go into effect 30 days after the election. Technically, that means the law would take effect Dec. 7. However, that doesn’t mean that’s when you’ll have the right to buy cannabis at a dispensary or grow it at home. In July, Ohio established The Division of Marijuana Control to oversee the medical marijuana program. This newly-formed Division under the Ohio Dept of Commerce will decide in the coming months how the adult use program will function alongside the current medical marijuana program.
Citizens should not make any presumptions that the passage of this act will prevent them from potential charges in Ohio. Cannabis is decriminalized in 38 cities across Ohio. The new law allows citizens age 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis or 15 grams of extract, no matter where they live in Ohio. Anything over this limit would still be subject to criminal prosecution.
Those who want to access state dispensaries will need to wait until licenses to sell adult-use cannabis are issued and inventory is stocked at these stores. It could be up to a year before adult use product is available in Ohio dispensaries.
Some Safety Considerations now that Ohioans Pass Issue 2:
If you plan to start using cannabis now that it’s legal in Ohio, here are a few safety considerations to keep in mind:
Can’t Sell it without a License
Legalized cannabis in Ohio does not mean you can sell to your friends. While the measure states that you can grow at home, you may not sell what you grow. We expect to see further guidance issued about home growing from the Division of Marijuana Control in coming months, so we recommend holding off on making any moves until we learn more.
Still May be Consequences for Testing positive for THC
You can still be penalized for testing positive for THC. If you plan to start using cannabis now that it’s legal, be sure to review your employee handbook. Check in with your employer on how they will handle this law change. There are no employment protections currently written into this law, so your boss may still test you for THC and dismiss you, even if you only use cannabis at home.
Guns and Cannabis
Guns and cannabis should still remain separate from each other. No law or list prevents a citizen from obtaining cannabis as a handgun owner, but the penalties for having both when stopped by police are unclear.
No Housing Protections
You still have to follow the rules in your rent agreement. Be sure to look over your lease to see if there are any specific rules about using cannabis in your home. Landlords will still have the right to prohibit cannabis use. If you cannot smoke or vape cannabis indoors, make sure you have a legal and safe space to use cannabis outside, away from playgrounds and children. Public cannabis consumption will be treated the same as public alcohol consumption. If you can’t do it with alcohol, you can’t do it with cannabis.
Added Protections/Convenience for MMJ Cardholders
Citizens who want to use cannabis may still want to get or renew your medical marijuana card. Dispensaries expect to see a huge influx of traffic once they have their adult use license. Patient cardholders who rely on cannabis as daily medicine will still be able to access it ahead of those who are recreational consumers.
Adult use consumers will be taxed 10 percent on their purchases. This tax will not apply to medical marijuana card holders. Medical cards also may allow higher possession limits as well as potential added protection from discrimination or penalty.
What are some of the benefits of an Adult Use Marijuana Program?
Medical marijuana patients in Ohio have often reported price as a barrier to using the program. The flood of new patients to the market will allow cultivators and processors to offer better prices for everyone.
Dispensaries will offer a greater variety of cannabis products. Both Ohio-specific selections and notable brands you may be already familiar with from other markets will be more readily available. Medical users who don’t always find consistent products in our current limited market will have much more to choose from.
Legalizing marijuana for all adults should help reduce the stigma around medical cannabis and potentially increase awareness among those who might benefit from its use. Career, research and educational opportunities in our area will continue to expand.
People can grow 6 plants per person and 12 plants per household. Growing your own cannabis can be a fun hobby that cultivates a greater respect and appreciation for the plant. It can also be a money-saver. We expect to learn more in the coming month about home grow from the Division of Marijuana Control.
After current MMJ operators are awarded adult use licenses, 50 new social equity dispensary licenses and 40 new social equity cultivator licenses will be issued. We expect details on the application process to be revealed in coming months.
Communities who host adult use dispensaries will enjoy 36 percent of the revenue from the cannabis program.
What Happens Next?
Issue 2 isn’t eligible for veto, but the Ohio Legislature could vote to repeal or change any part of the law in the coming months. MedicateOH will continue to update Ohioans as we learn more, as well as about the rules that will govern the adult use cannabis program in Ohio now that Issue 2 passed. Subscribe for updates weekly in your inbox.