Last month, Representatives Jamie Callender (R) and Casey Weinstein (D) introduced Ohio House Bill 168 to legalize the adult use of cannabis. Here’s what you need to know about this latest Ohio cannabis legalization effort:
House Bill 168: Enact Ohio Adult Use Act; levy a tax
Legislators in Ohio have introduced a bill to legalize the adult use of cannabis. Introduced on May 8th by bipartisan co-sponsors Representatives Jamie Callender (R) and Casey Weinstein (D), the adult use bill was referred to the House Finance Committee on May 23rd. No hearings have been held thus far to discuss the bill.
What will House Bill 168 do, if passed?
House Bill 168 would legalize cannabis use for adults 21 years of age or older. Adult-use consumers will be allowed to combust/smoke cannabis, unlike medical patients. Cannabis extracts will have a potency limit of 90% and cannabis flower will have the same potency cap of 35% that the medical program has established.
Adult-use consumers will also have the right to grow cannabis at home, with “no more than six marijuana plants per household, with three or fewer of such plants being mature flowering plants”. Possession will be limited to 50 grams of cannabis flower and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates.
The bill includes an action plan for the expungement and release of “non-violent marijuana offenders”. Those who meet the necessary qualifications will have the ability to file an application and pay a fee for expungement. Once the application has been submitted and the fee has been paid, a hearing will take place for a court to determine eligibility. Once expungement has been granted, the record will be sealed and will be hidden from criminal background checks, including those needed to receive a concealed carry permit.
Tax Rate and Allocations
A tax will be added to adult-use cannabis sales. “The rate of the tax shall be ten percent for the retail sale of marijuana and five and three-fourths percent for all other retail sales”. The tax money will be allocated as follows:
- “The marijuana receipts fund;
- The illegal drug trafficking enforcement fund, which the Department of Public Safety shall use to combat illegal drug trafficking in this state;
- The marijuana profits education fund, which shall be used, as determined in appropriations made by the general assembly, for the support of education for students in grades kindergarten through twelve;
- The chemical dependency rehabilitation fund, which the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services shall use to assist individuals in this state suffering from chemical dependency or substance abuse.”
Does the bill cover drug testing for employment?
The adult-use bill does not offer employment protection. While adults will have the right to consume cannabis in their free time, it does not stop an employer from testing for THC and using those results to fire or refuse to hire employees.
Who will oversee the adult-use program?
The adult-use program and the medical marijuana program will be regulated by the Division of Marijuana Control in the Department of Commerce, established by the bill.
Will this bill make any changes to the medical marijuana program?
Yes. This bill would add qualifying conditions to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. The conditions to be added: Arthritis, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Migraines, Opioid Use Disorder, Spasticity or chronic muscle spasms, any disease or condition for which hospice care is recommended by a treating physician, and any terminal illness. House Bill 168 will also remove the medical marijuana program from under the Board of Pharmacy and move control over to the Division of Marijuana Control in the Department of Commerce.
Additionally, the bill increases the number of approved methods of administration. Currently, the program allows for patches, oils, flower, tinctures, and edibles. This bill would add pills, capsules, suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral and topical sprays, beverages, inhalers, salves, lotions, or similar topical cosmetic products.
How do I track House Bill 168?
If you want to watch this legislation, you can do so on the Ohio Legislature website. Go to legislature.ohio.gov and use the website’s search function to find HB168. The following options appear under the title “House Bill 168” on the bill’s homepage:
- Summary: Who is sponsoring and cosponsoring the bill; it also gives an illustration of where the bill is in the legislative process and a link to the official bill language.
- Documents: A link to the legislative text, as well as any other documents written by Legislative Services.
- Status: Status and corresponding dates of the bill.
- Votes: Vote counts for the bill if brought to a vote in either the House or the Senate.
- Committee Activity: When hearings were held, who testified, and what they said.
If you wish to keep an eye on the bill and want to get email updates, there is a link in the top right of the bill’s page that will say: “Interested in HB168? Track it.” Click on the link. From there, you can create a free account and/or sign in. Your account allows you to keep track of the legislative issues of your choice, giving you email updates when something happens.
House Bill 168: How can I participate in the legislative process?
As an Ohio voter, your voice matters! Whether or not you support HB168, you have an opportunity to make a difference:
- First, you can reach out to your own legislators from your district and ask them to support or campaign against the bill.
- Second, you can reach out to any legislator with your interest or concern on the matter.
- Third, you can reach out to the Finance Committee members to urge them to vote for or against the bill. Go to legislature.ohio.gov to find the legislator directory. The directory will give you the phone number and office location of each legislator.
To send an email to a Senator, address it to the Senator’s last name, followed by “@ohiosenate.gov” (ex: email@example.com). To email members of the House of Representatives, each Representative email address begins with “rep”, followed by the number of the House district that the member represents, and ends with “@ohiohouse.gov” (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Watch the bill as it progresses here: https://ohiohouse.gov/legislation/135/hb168
Read the FULL TEXT of Ohio House Bill 168 HERE: https://search-prod.lis.state.oh.us/solarapi/v1/general_assembly_135/bills/hb168/IN/00/hb168_00_IN?format=pdf
Have questions about how you can participate in the legislative process for this and other legalization efforts? Email us at medicateOH@gmail.com.