Ohio Votes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio voters approved a ballot proposal legalizing recreational marijuana on Tuesday, defying Republican legislative leaders who had failed to pass the proposed law.
Passage of Issue 2 makes Ohio the 24th state to allow adult cannabis use for non-medical purposes. The new law will allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. A 10% tax will be imposed on purchases, to be spent on administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs supporting the industry itself.
The election’s outcome represents a blow to GOP lawmakers, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and business and manufacturing organizations concerned about its impact on workplace and traffic safety.
Opponents also raised concerns about the tax structure, which earmarks none of the earnings for Ohio counties that administer social services programs directed at drug use, addiction and other issues that could rise due to Issue 2’s passage.
For the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, voter approval marked the culmination of the proposal’s yearslong fight to become law.
GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose first submitted petitions to the Ohio General Assembly on behalf of the coalition in January 2022, triggering a four-month countdown for lawmakers to act. Republican legislative leaders didn’t, and lawmakers asserted the group’s petitions arrived too late for 2022 ballots.
A lawsuit and settlement ensued, under which the group agreed to wait until this year.
As a citizen-initiated statute, though, the law is anything but secure. Republicans who remain opposed to it in the Legislature are free to make tweaks to the law – or even repeal it, though the political stakes are higher now that the voters have approved it.
Pictured at top: Election officials Edith Ruth Sims, left, and Linda Sharritt process ballots on Election Day at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus. (AP Photo | Carolyn Kaster)
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.