Reform advocates from the campaign group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted a ballot initiative March 2, 2020, that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Ohio.
The measure would allow adults 21 and older to purchase, possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Possession would be capped at one ounce, and individuals could grow up to six plants, three of which could be mature.
The attorney general’s office has ten days to certify the ballot language. Once certified, the group will need to collect 442,958 valid signatures from registered voters from at least 44 of 88 counties by July 1, 2020, in order to be placed on the November ballot. However, the group is beginning the process with a tight timeline and, considering how large the state is, signature gathering will likely require extensive funding.
In 2015, Ohio voters rejected a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. However, advocates maintain that public opinion has since steadily shifted in favor for the legalization of marijuana in the state. Moreover, it was opposed by business, health, civic and political leaders as well as some legalization advocates who were concerned the language would have given too much control to the investors who funded the effort.
“Marijuana prohibition has been used to target communities of color for many years in Ohio,” said Anthony Riley, a member of the campaign group. “In addition to communities of color being targeted, other sick, disabled, and poor Ohioans have been treated unfairly for even trying to use medical marijuana as alternative to opioids.”
Under the proposal, the Department of Commerce would be responsible for regulating the marijuana market and issuing licenses for marijuana businesses such as dispensaries, cultivation facilities, processing facilities and testing facilities. Additionally, existing license holders would be allowed to sell their products to adults on July 1, 2021.
The proposal also states that the department would not issue more than one retail marijuana store license for every sixty thousand residents in the state and would limit the total cultivation area collectively among marijuana cultivation facilities to one million five hundred thousand square feet of cultivation area.
The tax revenue generated would be dispersed as follows:
- 50% would be allotted to the State Local Government Fund
- 25% would go to a special fund for the Commission on Expungement, Criminal Justice, Community Investment and Cannabis Industry Equity and Diversity
- 10% must be returned to municipal corporations in where retail sales occurred in proportional amounts based upon sales taxes remitted
The proposed amendment also contains provisions aimed at enhancing social equity. The Department of Commerce would be tasked with conducting a study to determine if the process of issuing marijuana business licenses in Ohio has been subject to discrimination, and whether the effects of marijuana prohibition have discouraged racial minorities from participating in Ohio’s medical marijuana industry.
Additionally, the bill does not include expungement for people who have been incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. However, advocates still hope that their social equity efforts would allow them to achieve goals like expungement.
Municipalities would also be able to bar marijuana businesses through the enactment of an ordinance or through an initiated or referred measure that would be subject to approval by voter on a local ballot during a general election year.
If you want to begin preparing for future marijuana business opportunities in Ohio, our Ohio Marijuana Application Guide and Checklist includes a step-by-step checklist of all action items needed to complete and establish a marijuana business.
The guide provides a step-by-step checklist of over 100 action items to complete prior to submitting your application for a marijuana business license. It covers topics from real estate and financial planning to staffing and team building activities.