DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio voters elected to legalize recreational cannabis.
During Tuesday’s general election, Issue 2 passed 55.7%-44.3%, with 50% of votes counted as of 9:26 p.m.
In Ohio, cannabis cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home grow, and use of cannabis by adults at least 21 years old will be legal in 30 days.
Legal adult use products in Ohio may include plant material and seeds, live plants, clones, extracts, drops, lozenges, oils, tinctures, edibles, patches, smoking or combustible product, vaporization of product, beverages, pills, capsules, suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral and topical sprays, salves, lotions or similar cosmetic products, and inhalers.
According to the language of Issue 2, Ohioans must be 21 to buy or consume cannabis. Regulated marijuana businesses can’t market to minors or else they’ll lose their licenses.
One major change this law creates in Ohio is removing the criminal penalties from financial institutions who support the operation of cannabis-related entities.
Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Program to be created
Formulated from models of 23 other states, Issue 2 does more than just regulate marijuana like alcohol. Under this new law, expanded access for medical marijuana (MMJ) is coming to Ohio, as well as end what Issue 2 calls “unfairly harsh punishments” for minor marijuana offenses.
The Ohio Department of Development will now create a Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Program, which will be funded by taxes collected from marijuana sales.
The law outlines that preferential treatment will be given to applicants who have qualified for the program based on social disadvantage when issuing level III adult use cannabis cultivator licenses and dispensary licenses.
According to the language of the law, additional support will be given to those in a racial minority group or show personal disadvantage due to color, ethnic origin, gender, physical disability, or long-term residence in an area of high unemployment.
But Issue 2’s passing does not mean cannabis will be freely accessed anywhere in the state. Cities will decide for themselves whether to permit dispensaries in their communities.
How cannabis sales taxes will be collected and used in Ohio
The law states existing state regulators, many of whom have been involved with Ohio’s MMJ program, will regulate production, testing, and sales. All cannabis sales will have a 10% tax on top of existing state and county sales taxes.
All money collected from the 10 percent tax levied to be deposited into the adult use tax fund and quarterly distributed as follows: 36 percent to the cannabis social equity and jobs fund; 36 percent to the host community cannabis facilities fund; 25 percent to the substance abuse and addiction fund; and three percent to the division of cannabis control and tax commission fund.
Experts anticipate several hundred million dollars in annual revenue for the state and local governments. Tax revenue will reportedly be used to increase funding for public safety, road improvements, drug treatment and prevention and investment in communities disproportionately impacted by Ohio’s previous marijuana policy.
How to legally consume cannabis in Ohio
Adult use consumers will be required to present a current, valid identification card when purchasing from a dispensary. Ohioans 21 and up may possess two and one-half ounces of cannabis and up to fifteen grams of extract.
All cannabis consumption must be done at home. Individuals are prohibited from smoking, vaporizing, or using any other combustible adult use cannabis product while in a vehicle, motor vehicle, streetcar, trackless trolley, bike, watercraft, or aircraft.
Ohioans can now grow their own cannabis at home. The new law states no more than six cannabis plants at an individual’s primary residence. That number is increased to 12 in a single residence where two or more individuals (at least 21) live together.
All cultivation must take place out of view of “unaided vision” in a secured closet, room, green house, or other enclosed area that prevents access to individuals under 21.
Legal protections upheld for landlords, employers
The law does allow landlords to prohibit conduct (consumption, storage, or growing) so long as the prohibition is included in the applicable lease agreement. However, notwithstanding any conflicting provision of the Revised Code, an individual’s status as an adult use consumer shall not be used as the sole or primary basis for rejecting the individual as a tenant unless the rejection is required by federal law.
Employers will also have the right to deny accommodations for employees related to cannabis use. Drug-free workplaces are still legal in Ohio under Issue 2.
The law is set to go into effect in 30 days.