Will Ohio Legalize Marijuana in 2021 or 2022 for Recreational Use? [Bill 210 Update]

  • Will Ohio legalize recreational marijuana in 2021 or 2022 for adult use? 
  • House Bill 210 calls for legalizing the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana and growing 12 plants at home.
  • The bill also calls for the expungement of prior convictions for possession of under 200 grams. 
  • Although the bill is popular with marijuana advocates it still faces strong opposition.

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. 

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.

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment

Ohio marijuana legalization initiative

At the beginning of 2020, advocates were working toward putting legalization on Ohio’s ballot this November. Unfortunately, the effort stalled because of the coronavirus outbreak. Then, in early May, a federal judge ruled that activists can collect signatures electronically and also extended the deadline to submit signatures. But in mid-May the signature-gathering effort was suspended.

Ohio marijuana decriminalization bill

Then in early July 2020, Ohio lawmakers attempted and failed to double the marijuana possession limits before criminal charges are warranted. Under the proposed law, anyone caught with up to seven ounces of marijuana would get a $150 ticket. 

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. 

NORML has put together this map of Ohio cities where marijuana is decriminalized.

House Bill 210 to Legalize Marijuana In Ohio

The latest attempt to legalize marijuana in Ohio is House Bill 210. The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic state Representatives Sedrick Denson of Cincinnati and Terrence Upchurch of Cleveland. 

House Bill 210 would legalize the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana for adult recreational use in Ohio. It would also allow for up to 12 marijuana plants to be grown at home for personal use. The measure would also call for the expungement of prior convictions for offenses involving the possession of up to 200 grams or 12 marijuana plants.

Currently, under Ohio marijuana laws, possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.

Opposition To Legal Marijuana In Ohio

One of the main opponents to legalizing marijuana in Ohio in 2021 is Governor Mike DeWine. In 2020, 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.

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 2015 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. Furthermore, the state has already decriminalized marijuana and many voters feel that creating a market for the drug is taking the issue too far.

However, legalizing growing marijuana at home, increasing possession limits, and expunging prior convictions under House Bill 210 would be welcome progress.

Telemedicine For Medical Marijuana Ends Sept. 17

Scroll to Top