Ohio’s GOP-Controlled Senate Reverses Course, Passes Bill Expanding Marijuana Legalization

Ohio’s GOP-controlled Senate has approved a revised bill that expands on the voter-approved marijuana legalization law set to take effect this Thursday. 

The Senate initially proposed changes that would have significantly altered key provisions of the cannabis initiative passed by voters last month. However, the Senate General Government Committee not only walked back on these proposed changes but unanimously passed the bill in a bipartisan voice vote.

The revised legislation, which subsequently received a vote of 28-2 from the full Senate, introduces several changes to the cannabis law. Notably, it allows adults to purchase cannabis from existing medical dispensaries in as little as 90 days, retains home cultivation rights, and includes provisions for automatic expungements of prior cannabis-related convictions.

Senator Rob McColley emphasized the need to combat the black market and protect the access that Ohioans voted for while ensuring efficient administrative implementation. Committee Chairman Michael Rulli acknowledged the public outcry, stating, “I think the people have spoken.”

Contrary to the initial proposal, the revised bill maintains adults’ right to grow up to six plants per person, although it caps the household limit at six plants instead of the originally proposed 12. The legislation also includes provisions for automatic expungements of certain prior cannabis-related convictions, a move strongly supported by advocates.

Governor Mike DeWine, although not supporting the legalization ballot initiative, recognized the obligation to follow the will of the people. He stressed the importance of making the legalization work efficiently while ensuring the safety of both non-users and cannabis consumers.

The amended bill restores the cap on marijuana retailers to 350, slightly increases the THC limit on cannabis extracts, and revises tax rates and revenue allocation. Notably, the marijuana excise tax is set at 15 percent, with additional local government taxes of up to three percent. $15 million in marijuana tax revenue is allocated for expungements, and the remaining revenue is directed towards various funds, including law enforcement training, substance misuse treatment, and suicide hotline services.

The cannabis language was attached to a non-controversial House-passed measure on alcohol regulations, requiring only a concurrence vote in the House. However, there is uncertainty about the House’s readiness to make reforms on an expedited basis, potentially leading to rapid changes in the legal cannabis landscape in Ohio.

Meanwhile, the House is considering another marijuana legalization amendment proposal by Rep. Jamie Callender. This proposal preserves home grow rights and other key components of the voter-passed initiative but introduces residency requirements for cultivation and additional restrictions on sharing marijuana between adults. The House Finance Committee is expected to discuss the legislation in the coming days.

Information for this story was found via Marijuana Moment, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

Leave a Reply