COLUMBUS, Ohio — Issue 2 passed this week by a 57% to 43% margin, and Ohio become the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. It's set to become legal next month, and the goal is to make sure proper protocols are in place in the state.
"About 75% to 85% of the rules that currently exist for the medical marijuana program will easily be applicable to the adult use program," said Lloyd Pierre-Louis, attorney at Dickinson Wright. "Things like security, things like space, how to grow operations, plans, things like that should not change."
The law is set to take effect on Dec. 7, 2023. Under the proposal's language, once it becomes legal, Ohioans can start growing six marijuana plants each, or up to 12 plants per household all without a license. Dispensaries will not be able to sell recreational marijuana until late 2024.
"It will trigger the Department of Commerce and the Department of Development to start adopting rules for the program that will ultimately result in in licensure for commercial growers, manufacturers and dispensaries," Pierre-Louis said.
Despite that statute passing this election cycle the legislature can still weigh in and make changes anytime to what the law could ultimately become in the future. Some lawmakers have already expressed meeting over taxation concerns, safety, and regulating the product.
“Investing in county jail construction and funding law enforcement training across Ohio should be our top priority to make our communities safer,” said Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) in a written statement.
However, people are expressing concern over individuals who already have a record, or are convicted due to recreational marijuana. The new law does not impact anyone who has already been convicted on marijuana charges. However, they could get some form of relief.
"We do have some processes that we can give those people relief, but that is outside of the statute," Benza said. "It could be prosecutors agreeing that if the defendants file a motion to vacate, the prosecutors may agree to vacate a conviction. Certainly, the governor and the parole authority would have the authority to go through and give pardons to people if they so choose. But that requires a political will on the part of the governor's office to do that."