Adults Can Now Legally Possess and Grow Marijuana in Ohio But There’s Nowhere to Buy It

Ohioans awoke on Thursday, December 7, 2023, uncertain about the status of recreational marijuana use in their state. As per the approved citizen initiative known as Issue 2, adults aged 21 and above can now legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and cultivate either six plants per individual or twelve plants per household. However, the absence of a legal avenue to purchase marijuana exists, given that the law granted the state a nine-month period to establish a system for legalized sales, taxation, and regulation.

A Cause for Concern?

Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, urged lawmakers to promptly define the parameters for implementing Issue 2, characterizing the current scenario as a “recipe for disaster.” He cautioned against the potential flourishing of black market sales or the increased accessibility of marijuana products laced with fentanyl or pesticides, which could pose risks to Ohioans, particularly children exposed to second-hand pot smoke during holiday gatherings.

A Stalled Compromise in the House

On the eve of the new law’s effective date, the Ohio Senate passed a compromise bill creating a Cannabis Control Commission responsible for overseeing the licensing and regulation of marijuana businesses. The bill proposed a 10% tax on retail sales, with revenues allocated to various programs and local governments. Additionally, the bill included provisions for expunging past marijuana convictions, allowing medical marijuana patients to cultivate their plants, and restricting the potency and packaging of marijuana products.

However, the Ohio House chose not to address the bill, opting for an adjournment instead. Republican state Rep. Jamie Callender, sponsor of a separate House bill, emphasized the absence of a “drop-dead date” for implementing Ohio’s legal sales scheme. He expressed the need for a “thoughtful” review of the Senate bill, referring to it as a “monstrous proposition.”

What Lies Ahead for Ohio’s Marijuana Users?

Until the state establishes a legal framework for marijuana sales, Ohioans seeking recreational use will need to either cultivate their plants or acquire it from alternative sources like friends, family, or the black market. However, this approach comes with potential legal risks, including federal prosecution, workplace drug testing, or driving under the influence charges. Furthermore, individuals will lack access to lab-tested, quality-controlled, and properly labeled marijuana products, as legal dispensaries could provide.

Consequently, many Ohioans are optimistic that lawmakers will promptly and responsibly act to fulfill the voters’ will, creating a secure and regulated marijuana market in the state. One supporter of Issue 2 emphasized, “We voted for this. We want this. We need this.”


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