“Today, for the first time since the adoption of federal marijuana prohibition, more US citizens reside in jurisdictions where cannabis is state-legal than live somewhere where it is not,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.
The law allows for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or 15 grams of marijuana extract by adults. Adults are also permitted to grow up to six plants for their own personal use.
“As a native Ohioan who has been directly impacted by marijuana criminalization and witnessed the unequal and unjust way it is enforced, I am overjoyed that responsible adult cannabis consumers in the Buckeye State will no longer face the lifelong collateral consequences of low-level arrests and convictions,” NORML’s Political Director Morgan Fox added. “I’m further pleased that our political opponents have, thus far, failed to undermine the spirit of this law — which was approved by 2.2 million Ohioans. It is up to all Ohioans to ensure that lawmakers continue to defer to their constituents and allow the rest of this initiative to take effect as intended under the guidance of regulators, stakeholders, and the citizens of Ohio.”
Immediately following last month’s election victory, leading Republicans — including Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Matt Huffman — called for legislative reforms gutting core provisions of the initiative. (Because the proposed measure was put before voters as a statutory question rather than a constitutional amendment, state lawmakers can amend or repeal its provisions.) Then on Monday, Senate leaders introduced legislation eliminating Ohioans right to grow cannabis while simultaneously seeking to delay the adoption of Issue 2’s marijuana possession laws, among other changes. That plan was met with resounding resistance from voters, pundits, and members of House leadership. (A NORML action alert, issued earlier this week urging lawmakers to respect the will of majority of Ohio voters, was sent to lawmakers over 7,500 times.)
Late Wednesday, members of the Senate largely reversed their position and voted in favor of substitute language preserving Issue 2’s adult-use possession limits and home grow rights (though lowering the maximum number of allowable plants per household from 12 to six.) Additional provisions in the bill establish a process whereby Ohioans can apply to have past, low-level marijuana possession convictions automatically expunged and expedite adults’ ability to purchase cannabis products from existing medical dispensaries. However, other provisions in the Senate bill prohibit adults ability to gift marijuana to one another, amend tax rates, and impose a lower THC cap on marijuana concentrates, among other changes.
House members last night refused to take up the Senate bill. House members are currently debating their own chamber’s bill to modify certain aspects of Issue 2, but have indicated that they are in “no rush” to pass anything.
Any modifying legislation passed by lawmakers will not take effect until 90 days after it is signed into law.
Ohio is the 24th state to legalize the adult-use marijuana market, and it is the 14th do so by a public vote.
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