Ohio votes to legalize cannabis

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Ohio voted yesterday, Tuesday, November 7, in favor of the legalization of cannabis. THE Buckeye StateEdit thus becomes the 24th American state to legalize cannabis. 53% of the American population now has legal access to cannabis in their state, while cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Regulate cannabis like alcohol

The adoption of question 2, defended by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA), marks a turning point in Ohio’s stance on cannabis. Not only does this measure grant those aged 21 and older the ability to purchase, possess and cultivate cannabis, but it also sets out a comprehensive regulatory framework governing the industry.

The legalization measure, called Issue 2, now allows possession of 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of cannabis for adults and cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants for households of two or more adults. The initiative introduces a 10% sales tax on cannabis, with revenue allocation earmarked for various purposes such as supporting social equity and employment programs, helping localities that license businesses cannabis for adult use, funding education and drug addiction programs, and covering administrative costs related to the implementation of the system.

The approved measure calls for the creation of a Cannabis Control Division within the state Department of Commerce, which will have the authority to license, regulate, investigate and sanction adult-use cannabis operators , testing laboratories and licensed persons. The legislation gives existing medical cannabis companies a head start in the recreational market, encouraging their rapid transition into the adult-use sector. Additionally, provisions prioritize applications from cannabis employment and social equity program participants, thereby promoting an equitable and inclusive industry landscape.

The impact of Ohio’s decision could extend beyond its borders. Indiana and Kentucky, two neighboring states, are among the few American states that do not yet have a medical cannabis program. In Kentucky, medical cannabis will not come into force until 2025. West Virginia has a medical cannabis program, but it is very restrictive.

Odds and passes

However, the road to legalization has been fraught with challenges: legal battles, legislative reviews and, finally, a ballot initiative. Activists and proponents faced challenges, including failed attempts to place the measure on the ballot in 2020 and 2022. Yet after several rounds of submission and review, Issue 2 was granted voter approval, underscoring Ohioans’ clear stance on the future of cannabis in their state.

Ohio’s victory reflects a broader national trend of growing support for cannabis reform. Matthew Schweich, executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, notes the significant support for legalization, highlighting the dynamics behind public sentiment for cannabis reform. However, concerns persist, particularly regarding possible interference from the state legislature, which retains the power to amend or repeal voter-approved initiatives.

The legalization of recreational cannabis in Ohio will have profound implications for the state’s economy and the cannabis industry as a whole. Projections point to a multibillion-dollar market in the Midwest, with estimates predicting substantial sales figures in the first year following legalization and a marked upward trajectory in subsequent years. The legislation opens doors to multi-state operators and local businesses, which is expected to drive consumer access to cannabis and market expansion.

The legislation’s provisions relating to social equity and the allocation of tax revenues to assist disadvantaged groups underline the commitment to addressing the issue of equity within the industry. Nonetheless, opposition from some quarters, including Ohio business organizations and concerns about workplace safety, persists despite the measure’s passage.

Ohio also voted to protect the right to abortion.

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