Fight for Adult-Use in Ohio Escalates 

Lori Ann Reese

Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 12/21/2021 in Recreational Marijuana

Ohio Adult Use Recreational Cannabis

Marijuana Moment reported that on Monday, December 20, 2021, marijuana activists from the state of Ohio submitted more signatures. The petitions totaled 206,943 endorsements from voters to the Ohio Secretary of State. Much more than was required to get lawmakers to move the dial to legalize recreational cannabis. 

The battle to bring adult-use cannabis to Ohio is heating up. It only took four months to collect the signatures. Almost 75,000 more signatures were collected than were needed to present to the Ohio legislature. This is an indication that residents in the state are ready to move forward with the recreational or adult-use legalization of cannabis. 

Now that the Coalition Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) has those signatures, the legislature can move forward to put the question of adult-use legalization on the 2022 ballot. But will lawmakers allow it?

Patients in Ohio Had Permission to Bring in Cannabis from the Other States

Once the legislation is passed to legalize cannabis, the real work begins. Because passing the laws that legalized medical marijuana in Ohio didn’t make cannabis available to patients. And that was a problem. 

H.B. 523 was signed by Governor John Kasich in June 2016. This launched the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. In Ohio, the Board of Pharmacy regulates the licensing of dispensaries and issuing medical cards to patients. Then, a separate Medical Board reviews, researches, and recommends which conditions are accepted as eligibility criteria for patients who want a medical card. 

It takes a great deal of time to create the infrastructure. That means licensing growers, processors, and dispensaries. Creating regulatory bodies to test for product safety and compliance. While patients are waiting for access to therapeutic cannabis. 

Legalizing Medical Cannabis in Ohio

In September of 2016, Ohioans were legally permitted to purchase cannabis from other states. This is quite common when a new medical cannabis program is being launched. And it provides a temporary solution until production can start and dispensaries can open. 

So, when Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical cannabis, out-of-state marijuana was permitted. Until 2018, when dispensaries opened and began selling cannabis to medical cardholders in the state. 

But one of the problems with allowing people with a medical card to buy out of state? It’s hard to end that practice once local dispensaries open. Especially if the neighboring state has better or more potent cannabis products or a more broad selection (including edibles); however, that’s not the case in Ohio because the full spectrum of medical cannabis products is available. 

What Comes Next on the Path to Legalizing Adult-Use in Ohio?

It is not the first time that Ohio has tried to legalize recreational cannabis. In 2015, there was a big effort led by a group called ResponsibleOhio. The question of adult-use legalization was placed successfully on the ballot on November 3, 2015, but was not endorsed by voters. 

On the ballot measure “Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Issue 3,” voters had two choices:

  • If voters had approved (said ‘yes’), the measure would have “legalized the limited sale and use of marijuana and created 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow marijuana”.
  • If voters disapproved (said ‘no), it would “leave current laws unchanged. Possession or use of marijuana for any reason remained illegal”. 

Only 36.35% of Ohio voters approved the proposition to legalize recreational cannabis. A whopping 63.65% of residents did not want to see adult-use made legal in the state. And the initiative was defeated on the ballot. 

There are currently eighteen (18) states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use in the United States. And it appears the new ballot measure will be full steam ahead for the November 2022 midterm elections. 





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