Passage of Issue 2 on Nov. 7 to legalize adult-use cannabis could generate $182 million to $218 million during the first full year of operations, according to estimates from Ohio State University’s Drag Enforcement and Policy Center. By the fifth year, the state could collect $336 million to $403 million from an excise tax on marijuana.
“Whatever tax structure is adopted, our analysis suggests it is reasonable to predict that Ohio would collect hundreds of millions in annual cannabis tax revenues from a mature adult-use cannabis market,” the study states. “But, the amount of tax revenue collected would likely still represent a small percentage of Ohio’s $60+ billion annual budget.”
The center reported the estimates based on tax revenue data collected from states with a similar population, Michigan and Illinois, and states with mature recreational marijuana markets, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a pro-Issue 2 group, said the study validates the group’s regulation position and will generate millions of dollars that will be reinvested back into local communities.
“Regulating marijuana like alcohol is the right decision for Ohio to ensure that veterans and patients have much needed access to medical marijuana, to ensure that we can keep marijuana out of the hands of kids, and to ensure that we put the black market out of business,” said a coalition spokesperson.
Those in Ohio who purchase cannabis would pay a 10% excise tax, the same rate rate as Michigan and Illinois, plus a 5.75% state tax, in addition to a local tax ranging from 0.25% to 2.25%. Some of the tax revenue would go toward equity and jobs programs, according to the proposed law’s text. Patients within the state’s medical marijuana program would not be subject to the tax.
However, Protect Ohio Workers and Families, the anti-Issue 2 coalition, noted Ohio’s marijuana excise tax rate would be considerably lower compared to Washington’s rate of 37%, Virginia’s rate of 21% and Nevada’s and Colorado’s rate of 15%.
“The 10% tax rate would be one of the lowest in the country and more than one-third of it would actually be steered back to the industry to pay for more pot farms and pot shops,” said a coalition spokesperson. “The marijuana industry may have written a good deal for themselves but it’s a bad deal for Ohioans and just one more reason to oppose Issue 2.”
Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Aug. 16 the statute to legalize recreational marijuana would join an abortion rights constitutional amendment and local elections — such as Columbus’ election for mayor and city council — on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The statute generally seeks to legalize adult-use sale, purchase and possession of cannabis for Ohioans who are 21 and older. Under the text of the proposed law, Ohioans could also grow a small number of plants in their homes.
Unlike the abortion right amendment, Issue 2 will appear as an initiated statute — giving state lawmakers the final word. The governor does not have the authority to veto a proposal made law via the ballot, according to the Ohio Constitution, but legislators can still propose and pass modifications to the new law after the election.
Close to 59% percent of likely Ohio voters, responding to a recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll, said they would vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Only 6.6% were undecided, with 34.8% against the issue.
Ohio would be the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. View the study from Ohio State University’s Drag Enforcement and Policy Center below.