This is Ohio's year to legalize cannabis | Fyllo

How Ohio got here

On September 8, 2016, Ohio legalized medical cannabis for people with certain medical conditions to purchase cannabis. Now, almost six years later, voters will have the chance to fully legalize adult-use cannabis for adults 21 years and older. This is a common trend in states that legalize adult-use cannabis, where the medical program’s success leads to full legalization in the future. If trends tell us something, it’s that Ohio voters should be optimistic about 2022.

The current state of cannabis

Not only is Ohio’s medical cannabis program flourishing, but it’s growing. Plans to add 73 new dispensaries will take place via drawing on January 27, 2022. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program is also adding more cultivation facilities which could help lay the groundwork for an adult-use market. And last year, Ohio passed Senate Bill 261, which broadened Ohio’s medical cannabis laws to allow more conditions for use. A surprising turn from 2015, when Ohio residents overwhelmingly voted against legalization.

What to look forward to in 2022

Late last year, three bills were introduced in Ohio’s legislative to legalize adult-use cannabis: HB 382, introduced by Democrats; HB 498 introduced by Republicans; and separate from the legislature is an Initiated State Statute proposed by activist group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. 

House Bill 382

Introduced by Democratic State Representatives last July, House Bill 382 would legalize the recreational use of cannabis and allow for its cultivation and possession. The bill would also levy a 10% tax on purchases and expunge criminal records for those convicted of cannabis-related offenses. The bill’s primary sponsors were Terrance Upchurch and Casey Weinstein.

House Bill 498

Last December, Republican state representatives Jamie Callendar and Ron Ferguson introduced House Bill 498, also known as the Ohio Adult-Use Act, which sought to expand Ohio’s medical cannabis program to include all adults 21 years or older. This would then change The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program to the “Division of Marijuana Control” and give the adult-use market a highly-regulated but successful framework to start from.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Initiated Statute

Outside of Ohio’s legislative action on cannabis is an initiated state statute proposed by the advocacy group The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. In Ohio, an initiated statute process involves gathering signatures for a measure. If the signatures are accepted, the legislature has four months to act on it. And if no action is taken, the organizers of the petition are able to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to have it placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. 

In December 2021, the advocacy group submitted a petition to legalize adult-use cannabis with 200,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. The initiated state statute would have allowed Ohioans 21 and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates at a 10% sales tax. Earlier this year, however, the Secretary of State ruled that the advocacy group fell short of signatures, needing an additional 13,062, and extended the deadline to mid-January. 

As of January 14, 2022, the group submitted an additional 29,918 signatures to the Secretary of State, and they are confident that would be enough to get the initiative certified and sent to the general assembly. 

Fyllo will continue monitoring cannabis trends and regulatory activity in Ohio. To learn more about legislative action around the U.S. and stay up-to-date on regulatory activity, download our 2022 Regulatory Outlook report now.

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