Questions Linger Over Ohio’s Cannabis Legalization Law

By Nadia Ramlagan
Ohio News Connection

After a statewide vote on Issue 2 to make recreational cannabis legal in Ohio, experts say confusion remains as lawmakers attempt to implement stricter regulations.

House Bill 86 would restrict marijuana use to private residences, limit homegrown plants to six per household and increase the plant’s excise tax from 10% to 15%.

Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign, said it is critical states have the ability to modify regulations in a relatively new landscape of cannabis legalization, but he believes curbing adult use laws could have economic impacts.

“Our regulations can grow along with the industry,” Haren said. “What we certainly didn’t want was for the industry and Issue 2 to be kneecapped before it has a chance to even be implemented.”

Ohio regulators are expected to approve licenses for dispensaries beginning next year. Until then, the sale and purchase of cannabis in the state remains illegal.

State Rep. Juanita Brent of Cleveland, D-22nd, said policymakers should work toward solutions for addressing how criminalizing cannabis possession has affected communities of color, including expungement of some criminal records.

“How are we going to deal with our criminal justice system about those who are currently still incarcerated, or who are not incarcerated who’ve been criminalized and received convictions for cannabis?” Brent said.

Research shows despite an overall decline in cannabis-related arrests nationwide, stark disparities remain among racial groups and have persisted in some states after legalization.

Pictured at top: A marijuana plant. (Adobe Stock)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.