Will Ohio Legalize Recreational Marijuana in 2023?
- Ohio Adult Use Marijuana Legalization On Track In 2023!
- The Ohio Legislature and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol reached a deal that delays any action until November of 2023 at best.
- The Legislature is also working to upgrade Ohio’s medical marijuana program.
- 70 New Ohio Dispensaries coming online
Recently, the group that submitted voter signatures to have the Adult-use marijuana proposal brought before the state Legislature in 2022.
After the office of Secretary of State, Frank LaRose claimed that less than 120,000 of the submitted signatures were verifiable registered voters. The coalition was subsequently able to gather an additional 30,000 viable signatures and presented them to state officials.
The state baulked, they sued. Now, a deal has been reached to forward the recreational cannabis movement in Ohio in 2023.
The deal was made between the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman. The deal includes that the 136,729 signatures the coalition gathered will be able to be used for the Ohio General Assembly.
LaRose will send the petition before the state legislature on Jan. 3, which will start a four-month period for lawmakers to consider the proposal.
Lawmakers will have to move the petition forward the petition by May 3, 2023, or the coalition will begin collecting signatures again for a fresh petition on the November 2023 ballot. Kinda progress….
OH Recreational Marijuana Bill To Be Considered in 2023
The matter has since been resolved and a settlement reached. The recreational marijuana proposal will be presented to legislators on January 3rd, 2023. This allows lawmakers four months to peruse and consider the measure.
The terms of the agreement state that the CRMLA will retain the 140,000 collected signatures and will not be forced to repeat the process for the 2023 election. The additional signatures met the minimum requirements, according to Mr. Larose.
Larose wrote in a letter posted online by Northeast Ohio Media Group:
“The initial part-petitions contained 119,825 valid signatures on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative of the total signatures submitted, signatures from 51 counties were submitted that met or exceeded 1.5% of the total number of votes cast for governor in the respective counties at the last gubernatorial election. The additional part-petitions contained 16,904 valid signatures on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative. I hereby certify that the part-petitions contained a total of 136,729 valid signatures submitted on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative petition.”
A spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Tom Haren stated:
“This guarantees the validity of the signatures we’ve already gathered, and we’ve got a much clearer path if we have to get to the ballot next year. We are delighted to have reached this settlement, which has preserved our initial signatures, provided the General Assembly with a second opportunity to consider the proposed statute, and established a clear path to ballot access in 2023. The most important thing for us was preserving an opportunity for Ohio voters to decide this issue. We aren’t going anywhere and are undeterred in our goal to legalize cannabis for all adults in Ohio.”
If the reform is given the green light, it would allow adults 21 and over to purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of concentrates for personal use. The measure would also allow adults to cultivate up to six plants per person or 12 plants per household in the comfort of their homes. A 10% tax on all cannabis products would be used to fund municipalities with dispensaries and administrative costs. Additionally, the extra revenue would be allocated for social equity, addiction treatment and employment programs.
Ohio Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Double In Number
The Ohio Legislature legalized marijuana for medicinal use in 2016. Now, lawmakers are hoping to solve some of the underlying issues that have been dogging the program. Many eligible residents say the program has experienced major issues since its inception. Numerous patients have expressed disappointment regarding the availability and pricing of medical cannabis in the state of Ohio.
In the coming months, legislators hope to address these ongoing problems.
The lawmakers behind Senate Bill 261 claim that almost fifty percent of eligible patients have left the program. This exodus is primarily due to the exorbitant prices, poor quality, and a shortage of cannabis products in the state.
70 new dispensaries in Ohio
Hopefully, the availability issue will be remedied in the near future, as regulators have already decided to approve 70 new medical cannabis dispensary operators.
A list of the newly approved dispensaries is available here.
At present there are fewer than 100 legal dispensaries in Ohio, and an estimated 138,00 registered patients with legal access to medical marijuana.
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement:
“This expansion is long overdue. High prices and the lack of convenient access provide significant barriers to Ohio’s patient community. Hopefully, the addition of these licensed operators will better address patients’ growing demands.”
Jimmy Gould, who had a hand in drafting the 2016 bill hopes that revisions to the new bill will make it easier for patients to access the program.
“The real goal is to make it a more patient-centric legislation,” Gould said. “It’s really making the industry function better.”
At present, it’s easier and cheaper for Ohio residents to purchase cannabis illegally. “We’re up against some really serious money,” Gould said. “The illicit market in Ohio alone is $1.18 billion.”
In addition to the high prices and accessibility to the program, supply is also a huge concern. With 70 new dispensaries to open in the next year, growers are going to have to up their game substantially.
Ohio residents are also currently not able to use their medical marijuana cards in other states with similar programs. However, this too might be remedied soon. The law requires that the Board of Pharmacy attempt in good faith to negotiate and enter into reciprocity agreements with other states. This would be a welcome addition to patients who wish to vacation in other medical-use-only states such as Florida.
Sources and additional reading:
- Ohio won’t vote on legalizing marijuana in 2022, group to try again in 2023
- Ohio Cannabis Legalization Vote Pushed Back to 2023 | High Times
- Ohio: Regulators Approve Dozens More Applicants to Operate Medical Cannabis Dispensaries – NORML
- Lawmakers look to solve issues with Ohio’s medical marijuana program