Ohio Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative

On Tuesday, Ohio residents approved Issue 2, a ballot measure to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adult use in the state. With 53% of the votes counted, Issue 2 was ahead by 55.6% to 44.4%. 

“Passing adult use legalization means the normalization of common sense policy in Ohio, the end of decades of racially-motivated cannabis wars, a massive economic boost for the state in millions of dollars of direct tax funds for schools, roads, and other public benefits, as well as billions in economic activity. Lastly, for the existing cannabis businesses and the ones yet to come, this finally creates a fair and ethical playing ground in which entrepreneurs and companies across the value and supply chain can flourish,” says Jack Grover, Founder & CEO of Grove Bags and Ohio-native.

Ohio the 24th State to End Prohibition

This vote makes Ohio the 24th state in the U.S. to end prohibition. The passage of Issue 2 also means that a majority of Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults. 

“This step towards cannabis legalization signifies a progressive shift and the beginning of a chapter for the state, reflecting the shifting perceptions of cannabis across America,” Lucas McCann, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, CannDelta Inc., says. “Ohioans will soon see a bolstered state economy, increased job opportunities, and tax revenue that can be reinvested in Ohio’s aging infrastructure like schools and hospitals.”

Campaigned for by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA), the measure, which will go into full effect on December 7, establishes a regulatory framework to allow adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and cultivate cannabis.

Key Provisions of the Ohio Legalization Measure

Here are the key provisions that the ballot measure will allow:

  • Adults 21 and over will be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates.
  • Adults 21 and over will be able to grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. 
  • A 10 percent sales tax would be imposed on cannabis sales, with revenue being divided up to support social equity and jobs programs (36%), localities that allow adult-use marijuana enterprises to operate in their area (36%), education and substance misuse programs (25%), and administrative costs of implementing the system (3%).
  • A Division of Cannabis Control would be established under the state Department of Commerce. It would have authority to “license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed.”
  • The measure gives current medical cannabis businesses a head start in the recreational market. 
  • Regulators would need to begin issuing adult-use licenses to qualified applicants who operate existing medical operations within nine months of enactment. 
  • The division would also be required to issue 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 adult-use retailer licenses “with a preference to applicants who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.”
  • Individual municipalities would be able to opt out of allowing new recreational cannabis companies from opening in their area, but they could not block existing medical marijuana firms even if they want to add co-located adult-use operations. Employers could also maintain policies prohibiting workers from consuming cannabis for adult use.

Supporting Ohio’s Burgeoning Cannabis Industry

Symple Seeds, a collective e-commerce platform for cannabis seeds in the U.S., is all set to support Ohio’s budding cannabis industry. With home cultivation now legal, and medical cannabis cultivators expanding, CEO Jessica Hanson says she looks forward to supporting Ohio’s legal market by supplying top-notch cannabis seeds to home growers and professionals alike. 

“We’re really proud of the Ohio voters and all the cannabis advocates out there. I can’t wait to see how Ohio’s regulated adult-use cannabis industry develops, and I’m eager to be part of this exciting journey,” Hanson says. 

Lloyd Pierre-Louis, a member of the Cannabis Practice Group at Dickinson Wright PLLC and cannabis operator licensing advisor, thinks there is a much higher demand for adult-use cannabis than what was believed. “I think the medical program will be supplemented by adult-use. I also think a lot more access is needed and adult-use will provide it, particularly for people who have not been able to get a recommendation or afford medical cannabis because of the prices. With adult-use, I think it will make access a lot easier and products a lot less costly,” he says.

What’s Next?

Within six to seven months, Pierre-Louis says Ohio will start seeing rules being made for the legislation. “Rulemaking usually takes around six months in Ohio, so I would anticipate applications for licenses will come out around June, with a deadline of September of next year for the issuance of those licenses. I would think products would be on shelves for consumers to purchase in about a year,” he says.