Will Ohio Legalize Marijuana in 2021 for Recreational Use?

Will Ohio, “the heart of America,” legalize recreational marijuana in 2021 for adult use? Were advocates of a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana able to collect enough signatures for the initiative? It seems inevitable, but when will Ohio legalize marijuana? Let’s find out.

If Ohio were to legalize marijuana it could become a major player in the North American cannabis market. Ohio is the 7th most populated in the U.S. but ranks 34th in terms of size, making it the 10th most densely populated state in the country. Moreover, Ohio has a climate and geography well suited for cultivating cannabis.

However, the state faces some obstacles when it comes to the full legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio. 

Voters in the state have already given the thumbs up to medical marijuana legislation. Although the program, which was approved by voters in 2016, has gotten off to a slow start. Ohio dispensaries started selling medical cannabis in early 2019. Because of this, residents seem to be lightening up about lighting up a recreational marijuana program.

Ohio voters in 2015 roundly rejected a push to legalize marijuana for adult use, but some think that’s a poor indicator of the state’s interest in legalizing commercial cannabis. The 2015 measure drew criticism at the time even from traditional allies of reform, many of whom criticized the proposal’s licensing provisions that would give a near-monopoly on cultivation to the same investors who had funded the ballot initiative.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening with the current Ohio marijuana legalization initiative, who’s for and who’s against legalizing marijuana in Ohio in 2020, as well as the measure’s chances of succeeding.

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment

Ohio 2020 marijuana legalization initiative

At the beginning of the year, advocates were working toward putting legalization on Ohio’s ballot this November. A formal initiative proposal was filed in early March. In order to qualify for the November ballot, activists needed to collect around 443,000 valid voter signatures including at least 10 percent of residents in each municipality by the end of July.

Unfortunately, the effort stalled because of the coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing measures made signature-gathering all but impossible. However, in early May, a federal judge ruled that activists can collect signatures electronically and also extended the deadline to submit signatures from July 1 to July 31. But that wasn’t enough to save the campaign. 

In mid-May, it was announced that the signature-gathering effort would be temporarily suspended. With the deadline passed, advocates are now looking towards the 2022 election. 

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment marijuana legalization initiative calls for an amendment to Ohio’s constitution that would permit adults over age 21 to possess marijuana. 

It would also open the door for up to 200 recreational marijuana dispensaries in the state. Under the current proposal, the state’s more than 100 medical marijuana businesses would be the first to open to non-medical users. Local cities and towns would be able to limit the number of marijuana businesses and limit their hour or ban them completely. And tax revenue from the program would help fund diversity programs

This could happen as early as 2023. It could also happen sooner if the Ohio state legislature decides to act on marijuana legalization legislation.

Ohio marijuana decriminalization bill

In early July 2020, the Ohio Senate passed renovations to the state’s decriminalization laws doubling the possession limits before criminal charges are warranted. If the measure is signed into law, anyone caught with up to seven ounces of marijuana would get a $150 ticket.

Get caught with anything over 7 ounces up to 14 ounces and you could be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and 400 to 1,000 grams would warrant first-degree misdemeanor charges. 

A total of 17 cities in Ohio cities have already passed decriminalization laws either via ballot measures of city council votes including Dayton, Toledo, Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. 

Opposition To Legal Marijuana In Ohio

Although eight petitions to legalize marijuana have been certified by authorities over the past five years, only one has made it onto a ballot. Even though a 2015 Quinnipiac University poll showed that 53 percent of Ohio voters were ready to legalize recreational marijuana, voters rejected the previous attempt by a margin of 2 to 1. 

Many believe the measure failed because it gave a monopoly to a handful of stakeholders. Those pushing the new initiative promise not to make that same mistake again.

Ian James, director of the ResponsibleOhio, the campaign behind the 2015 initiative claims that the Quinnipiac poll confirms that Ohio voters want to legalize marijuana. 

Although voters approved the 2016 medical marijuana initiative by a comfortable margin, it’s not clear if residents in the state are ready to move on creating a recreational market. Ohioans have been leaning red in recent elections. Furthermore, the state has already decriminalized marijuana and many voters feel that creating a market for the drug is taking the issue too far.

One of the main opponents to legalizing marijuana in Ohio in 2020 is incoming governor Mike DeWine. On April 20, the state’s former attorney general rejected a petition that sought to fully legalize marijuana in Ohio. And after a 2015  visit to Colorado to assess that state’s legal recreational marijuana program, DeWine stated that he was “alarmed” by the state’s recreational cannabis program, specifically condemning the state’s laws as they pertain to cannabis-infused edibles.

Fortunately, because the initiative would invoke a constitutional amendment, DeWine would not be able to veto legislation offhand. And with more than 50 percent of the state’s voters in favor of legalizing marijuana, the chances of Ohio legalizing marijuana in 2022 are high (no pun intended). 

In the meantime, according to nonprofit marijuana advocacy group NORML, under current Ohio marijuana laws, anyone caught with less than 100 grams of marijuana in their possession faces a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $150. However, if you’re caught selling marijuana in the state you could be looking at a minimum of one year in prison and a fine of $2,500.

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40 thoughts on “Will Ohio Legalize Marijuana in 2021?”

  1. Lets get on it!! I am open to obtain signatures by July 1, if the deadline has not changed yet. Not much time left to put it on ballot for 2020.

  2. I got the Ohio State Medical Card but the price is so high that I continue to buy on the black market. I am on disability and last year paying the Doctors exam fee $200.00 and giving Ohio another $25.00 for the right to own the card was to hard on my pockets. I have to pay it again by the end of May 2020 to continue to have the card. The State of Ohio makes a nice profit on the backs of sick and injury people plus the sales tax that she collects.. Also Ohio State charge the vendors thousands for the licence that the vendors have to charge high prices to make a profit and they pass it on to the little guy. I like to see it on the ballot for 2020 but the State is going to do what it can to keep it off, to line it’s own pockets and to protect the vendors investment. Sure I would like to grow my owe in the State of Ohio but how many people would continue to visit the Ohio Dispensaries for Marijuana if it becomes law.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    1. I understand your suspicions that people would stop going to dispensaries, but I disagree. The reasons the prices are so high and the quality is so low now are because of a lack of customers, restrictive cost and regulation to grow and sell it legally, and a restricted licensing process. If they legalized it and removed/reduced restrictions to enter the market, there would be more competition, lower prices, and higher quality product over night. More dispensaries would start popping up everywhere if they were allowed even under the current laws. Only a certain amount of licenses were awarded for both growers and dispensaries. For the lowest level grow license, it’s a $2,000 non-refundable fee just to apply (and ultimately get denied). The current law has it written that basically people that already have grow sites can be allowed to expand if they aren’t keeping up with demand. I’m assuming it’s a lot easier for 1 big commercial grower to expand their space than it would be for a bunch of Level II cultivators to get awarded licenses (again, from a limited pool). They have a very restricted list of qualifying conditions, and have recently denied multiple other conditions from being added. The current system is sloppy at best and broken at worst. The first time Ohio voted against legalization, it was mostly due to concerns over the obvious oligopoly that was being formed. Hell, even after they legalized it under the current system, they faced initial delays because there was some inside shady stuff going on with who was being awarded licenses. Something about the people that hand out licenses and people that got them having the same lawyer…. yeah. So to be fair, they aren’t just lining their own pockets, they’re lining their friends pockets too.

  3. I may be wrong on this but Marijuana needs a “rebrand” to successfully appeal to all Ohio voters.

    On occasion I see a news segment about legalizing marijuana and the people that are pro weed, generally have long hair, appear to be stoned and uninformed.

    Don’t get me wrong on this, I could care less about hair length or stoned people.

    However, if you want a broad appeal to voters that are older and statistically more reliable voters.
    A “rebrand” is necessary.
    Anyone agree?

  4. I need for it to approve..my life is in a bed for 9 years…cant stand very long continuously in pain don’t know how much I can handle this ..you guys scared the doctors from giving pain pills out to people that needs it..I heard about the cannnibis capsules they say there good and she don’t have to take any other drug..I need a life please ..Help the ones that need the help ..I get social security so not much money after paying pills but ..please help us so we can be able to get it.
    Barbara

    1. Amen sister. I have been disabled for 16 years now. Even after that long on oxy they still took it away, my doctor said he had no choice with the crack down. SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME HOW A PERSON WHO WILL NEVER BE WITHOUT PAIN OR PAIN MEDICATION GET TO BE AN ADDICTED? We are so closely guarded by our doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies. We aren’t idiots we are warned time and time again that any hanky panky or even one failed drug test and we will be blackballed from all pain medication. Yes, we are drug tested regularly, just like common criminals! I thought the pursuit of happiness was our right as Americans or are the disabled once again excluded. Why are we penalized just because some soccer mom got greedy or some pusher got someone else hooked. Go after them, NOT THE DISABLED! Our lives are hard enough! And before you go there I know how hard the medication is on my body. I have already had that conversation with both my doctor and pharmacist. I will that quality over length any day. Twenty years of a life with less pain is better than 25 year or wishing, waiting, praying it will just end. Has anyone even considered what this will do to the suicide rates? NO, THIS IS AN ELLECTION YEAR AND ALL THE POLLITICANS CARE ABOUT IS THEIR SOUND BITES! WAKE UP GOVERNOR OR DO YOU NOT WANT TO BE RE-ELECTED! Because, I DO MATTER!!!!!
      Sign me mad as *ell.

    1. I sure as #all agree with you 100%. Can’t wait until 2 years then we can vote that lying rat out. He’s done nothing other than lie his face off.. Saying the police in Colorado want it outlawed again. I seen Numerous cops interviewed that said that he is totally wrong. All the police I seen interviewed said it was working great, and now they can go after the opioid and cocaine and heroin problem. I want to sign that petition to get it on the ballot. It would already be legal if they didn’t have that whole monopoly thing with the last time they tried. I don’t think it will be legal until after we take the trash (DeWine) out of office. I know John Boehner wants it legalized and has been talking to other Republicans trying to get them with him on it. Where do I go, to sign that petition? I’m 55 years old, and I would like to smoke a joint before I go to bed. Then I could get rid of the 2 prescriptions that I currently take for sleep.

      1. Right now I’m either buying from black market or making an hour and a half drive to Ann Arbor to buy it.

  5. There is a clear demand for recreational cannabis. We should do this right and join the other states and be United. Make it safe for the people who chose to use . And affordable for the medical patients who need it . Together we can remove the bad stigma that people with no knowledge of what cannabis really is.

  6. Move to Illinois or Michigan if you want to get stoned. I hope they never legalize recreational pot in Ohio. Pot should remain as a medical tool. It’s fine if people get high for fun and stay in their own private places, but they never do. More people will use pot, then drive and get in other peoples faces, when we already have distracted and drunk drivers to deal with. Because of that fact, recreational pot has to remain illegal in Ohio.

    1. Youngatown Ohio

      Ohioan you are a stupid f*****g a$$hole. Get in peoples faces? What the fk does that even mean. Its pzzy a$$ c**ts like you to why this state sucks.

    2. Learn the facts. Driving accidents due to mj are not an epidemic in states that have legal recreational mj. And if it’s ok for me to use medical marijuiana, then it must be safe, right? Legalizing medical mj and not recreational makes as much sense as ‘medicinal’ alcohol during prohibition.

    3. Your effin stupid if you think recreational marijuana is going to be more harmful than drunk drivers! Have you not read statistics on any other state that has legalized marijuana? Obviously not! The drug overdoses went way down. OHIO NEEDS TO LEGALIZE IT ASAP!

      1. Molly I agree with you but calling some one stupid is uncalled for period! All we can do is hope that we have more pros vs the cons as some people are just set in their ways or brain washed for what they have been told about weed users.

    4. You obviously know nothing about marijuana at all, get your facts straight buddy. I’ve been a marijuana user for over 40 years and I’ve driven high for over over 40 years and have NEVER had an accident nor have I EVER stolen, started fights or put anyone in harm’s way and I’ve ALWAYS held a job. Alcohol and hard drugs like opiods and meth are the issue not marijuana!!! Personally, I think I speak for many others as well, marijuana does a way better job with pain and illness and also eating disorders and opiod dependence than any man made pills. I WILL NOT take meds, I have a long list of health issues that would be a major problem for me and alter my everyday activities if it weren’t for marijuana, it helps me sleep, calms my nerves, takes away my pain and helps me have an appetite that I would not have if I did not smoke marijuana. Do some research and get the facts…just sayin

      1. Thank you Anita-I also have smoked for 40 years, always worked and never had an accident. Car wreck in 1978 is why!

    5. U apparently don’t know anything about pot because if u did u would know its a peace drug and nothing like alcohol

    6. Because of that fact? Since when does a prediction, backed by no scientific data, qualify as a fact? All you have to offer is fear and false beliefs that hold back progress for the greater good. Try to find statistics on drivers that only have cannabis in their system that have caused accidents on the roadways. You can’t. Why do you think that is? Peace.

    7. Ohioan, people who use marijuana exhibit no behavior in relation to alcohol users. I quit going out to bars years ago due to the tendency of drinkers to become violent. A marijuana smoker is more likely to fall asleep, or hug you. Or giggle.

    8. Ohioan: No, the majority of people that get stoned don’t like going out in public and “getting into peoples’ faces”. Please don’t confuse it with alcohol. Most people that get stoned do it in the privacy of their own home and just want to be left alone. Would I drive with a stoned driver? Sure, provided that person isn’t an idiot sober. Would I drive with a drunk driver? No way! – I don’t care if they had an IQ of 160. What was that meme that went around a while back? “A drunk driver will run a stop sign. A stoned driver will wait for the stop sign to turn green.” Stoned people are so paranoid while driving that they pay attention (sometimes too much) to what they are doing. I have set the cruise to 25mph to make sure I was not exceeding the speed limit.

      1. Hahaha ive done that same exact thing. Oh my. Um yeah lets just say, I’ve NEVER in my life got in someones face cause i was stoned. Im 25yrs old. Ive never smoked out of my own home. It helps me so much with a long day. An if my children wanna play with daddy, well it helps me not to snap or over think a childs thought process, cause i have A.D.H.D. an boy i tell you it slows me the Fk down!!! So i would LOVE it to be legal.

    1. Why are we the last state to get on board? I have chronic pain and can’t afford the stupid weed card and thanks to the junkies we can”t get any pain meds either, Mike DeSWINE SAW TO ALL OF THIS, HE IS A SUCKY SENATOR AND SHOULD BE KICKED TO THE CURB!

  7. Ronnie M Yenchik

    Outlaw beer , wine , cigarettes if you are so dam worried about our health . Oh I.m sorry they pay you to much kick back money . Legalize marijuana you two faced state leaders .

  8. Hello, could you so a follow up to ‘Will Ohio Legalize Marijuana in 2019? – Ohio Dispensaries’ please? We have been trying to contact Ohio Families for Change and it appears they ghosted when Ohio Medical Marijuana Registry was activated.

    Thank you, Tammy

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