CINCINNATI — On the same day that Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said it's time to "legalize marijuana in Ohio," a pair of state lawmakers announced plans to introduce a bill that could make that happen.
Cranley, a Democrat who is vying to become Ohio's next governor, made his comments Thursday on Twitter. His message focused on using legalization to fund things like infrastructure, education and health care.
If we legalized marijuana we could invest that tax revenue right back into our communities. We could rebuild our roads and fund public education. We could expand healthcare for our communities.— John Cranley (@JohnCranley) July 15, 2021
It's time we legalize marijuana in Ohio.
The comments came the same day that State Reps. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, announced plans for a bill that would legalize the cultivation of marijuana in Ohio. It would also regulate the sale of marijuana for limited recreational use, according to Weinstein.
Honored to be your joint sponsor bro. Let’s do this! https://t.co/zxDVsFouA5— State Representative Terrence Upchurch (@tupchurch216) July 15, 2021
"We are at an inflection point, and if Ohio doesn't act to realize the criminal justice, medical, economic and civil liberty benefits that this bill realizes, we will Ohioans behind," said Weinstein. "This is one of the rare issues that has true bipartisan support. Ohioans are ready for this, and I am calling on my colleagues to step up to the plate and meet this moment."
Cranley made similar comments back in May. He said marijuana could be regulated in the same manner as alcohol.
The majority of Ohioans know it's time to legalize marijuana and expunge the records. We can regulate it like alcohol and use the tax revenue to reinvest right here in our schools, healthcare, and communities.— John Cranley (@JohnCranley) May 18, 2021
In 2015, Ohio voters soundly turned down — by a 64-36 margin — a ballot measure that would have legalized limited use and possession of recreational marijuana in Ohio. In the years since, a number of states have made recreational marijuana legal.
In 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use.
Cincinnati City Council voted in 2019 to decriminalize the limited possession of marijuana in the city. Cranley didn’t have a vote, but he didn’t veto the law.
Cranley announced earlier this year his plans to run for governor of Ohio in 2022. He's running against fellow Democratic challenger Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, Ohio.
Whaley has been in favor of marijuana decriminalization for several years. She also believes Dayton residents would be in favor of legalization.
In 2018, Whaley said, "People don't look at it as a criminal offense, and so we don't want it to be criminally prosecuted,” according to a report from Dayton247.com.
City commissioners voted in January 2019 to decriminalize marijuana in Dayton. Whaley said at the time that she would support placing a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot if the city had the power to make such a change.
“Honestly, I think if we asked citizens of Dayton whether they want to legalize marijuana, they would say yes,” she said, according to the Dayton Daily News. “We’re not able to do that because of state law, and so this is as far as a municipality could go.”
Although some jurisdictions have legalized recreational marijuana, marijuana possession remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substances Act.
Gov. Mike DeWine is against marijuana legalization, according to the Statehouse News Bureau. He plans to run for reelection.