A proposed initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio will appear on ballots for this year’s general election in November, state officials just announced.
We reached out to some of our speakers to get their perspectives on how adding an adult-use program would impact the state. If passed, the ballot initiative would legalize possession and home cultivation of marijuana for adults and allow for commercial production and sales of regulated adult-use cannabis.
A total of 127,772 signatures from various parts of Ohio were presented by petitioners to meet the requirement for a referendum in November that seeks to legalize the cultivation and commerce of cannabis for individuals aged 21 and above in Ohio.
If the proposed ballot initiative passes, Ohioans would be permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates. The proposal also legalizes marijuana cultivation for personal use. Adults would be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants, and households with more than one adult would be permitted to grow 12 plants.
It is time to vote this November 2023! Come to the Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit on Oct. 6 & 7th in Cleveland to get informed, then go to the polls and vote.
Tim Johnson is the Founder/CEO of Cannabis Safety First LLC. As a retired law enforcement officer and a US Air Force Veteran. Tim saw a need to participate in creating Ohio’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Programs to provide information from the street’s perspective. As a cannabis advocate for patients, veterans, and the Ohio Medical Cannabis program, Tim focuses on government relations and legislative services on criminal justice, drug policy, civil justice, and law enforcement reform.
To the licensees, Tim provides security consulting solutions, safety training courses, and asset protection services.
What do you think about the initiatives to legalize adult-use cannabis in Ohio?
Ohio has two unique opportunities in 2023 to present an Adult Use Cannabis Program. I believe that neither the CRMLA-initiated statute nor the legislative approach of HB168 fairly addresses criminal justice reform language encompassing patient and consumer protections. We see discrimination in housing, employment, child custody, banking, and schooling as problematic issues.
Ohio will have a chance to correct these issues during the rule promulgation period. The correct language will bring criminal justice reform to the forefront, hopefully minimizing criminal cannabis arrests and the problems created from arrests and convictions. My hope is to see an educational awareness platform created for public service announcements (PSA). Ohio will need to address training for the judicial branches of government, medical disciplines, safety awareness and more to enlighten the community as a whole.
While this is a great opportunity for Ohio adults to have a choice to participate or not too, we must remember cannabis will still remain illegal in the illicit sector, AKA Black Market. This means compliance with the program is a must to avoid criminal prosecution.
If adult-use passes at the ballot box in November, how do you think Ohio will be impacted?
With the passage of an Adult Choice Program, Ohio will see an immediate impact. I believe we will see an influx of participating consumers around the 500K numbers in the first year and growing yearly thereafter. The program will bring many opportunities from a commerce perspective, an unlikeable, but usable tax base to the state, and a freeing up of first responders and the courts to entertain more serious criminal activity. The problems I see are protecting the current medical program for true cannabis patient protections and a move for an elite few to capitalize on the new industry through controlling language.
Mary Jane Borden – an author in the “Courage in Cannabis” book, a graphic artist, and an award-winning activist in Westerville, Ohio.
What are your thoughts about the possibility of Ohio becoming an adult-use market?
I’ve worked in cannabis reform full-time for about 20 years. Before then I worked as a marketing analyst in pharmaceuticals. Right now I really want to see cannabis regulated for what it is. It’s a plant. Yes, it has special properties, but there’s no reason that people should be in jail for using this plant.
Things have changed throughout the years, but I remember people being denied organ transplants and college scholarships if they used cannabis. And from a holistic approach, why are we depriving ourselves of opportunities such as hempcrete, which is concrete made of hemp, to the possibility of a potential cure for cancer?
Every state does things differently. For instance, in Idaho, it’s beautiful there, but you can still go to jail for possession. The law is very strict there.
Do you have any concerns for Ohio if the law is changed to allow adult use?
It’s going to be a balancing act. If you go strictly by demand you might see people going for the highest concentrations of THC, in various forms. That’s not always best for a patient’s condition. You want to make sure patients still have access to the medical program and encourage education.
But overall, I believe that an adult-use program would be good for the state. It’s getting rid of ridiculous sanctions such as drug testing, which I see as a discriminatory practice that doesn’t consider measuring the quality of a person’s character and abilities.
Overall, the cannabis campaign initiative moves the ball forward so I’m in favor of it.
Brian Adams, director of education, Harrington Institute for Cannabis Education. He is an emcee, producer, activist and instructor. He is the former executive director of Cleveland NORML (2013-2017), and founder of Sensible Cleveland; a not-for-profit ballot initiative PAC that led to the historic decriminalization of marijuana possession in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.
What do you think about the initiatives to legalize adult-use cannabis in Ohio?
I feel good about this initiative overall. I have been working on law reform since 2013.
This is also the second time that we have a social equity push. We saw the medical program try to add social equity, but it ended up getting struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court.
With this new initiative, they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel because they’re taking pages from other states. They’re not changing the core elements of what an adult-use program should look like.
One area is home grow and allowing current operators to have first dibs at the adult-use market. They won’t get pushed to the side necessarily and we will go from there.
Basically on the social equity side, the first additional 50 licenses will have a social equity preference. They want those first 50 retail licenses to reflect an attempt to license a disenfranchised group, which are mainly black and brown people.
Education is the cornerstone of cooperative economics, and the Cleveland School of Cannabis can provide that. Because I come from an educational background, I understand that getting in front of the educational side of this initiative is one of the most important components of this effort.
Tom Haren is the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. He’s also a corporate attorney at Frantz Ward whose practice areas include serving the Ohio and national cannabis industry. He represents licensed operators in medical and adult-use markets, ancillary service providers, and companies operating in the hemp industry. He also believes that years from now, we are going to look back at marijuana prohibition the same way we look at alcohol prohibition.
What is your overall impression of how Ohio will be impacted if the law is changed to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis for adults:
It will be great for the state. I think we will have a smooth rollout considering we are modeling our proposal on the 20-plus states that have already done this. We are also building on our existing medical marijuana infrastructure, so we are not starting from square one.
All of the current medical license holders will transition to be both medical and adult-use operators. And adult use consumers will retain the option to participate in either program.
What’s the biggest factor that will make a difference in Ohio?
There is no one big factor because the proposal will do several things. Our state will raise hundreds of millions of dollars that will benefit our state and local communities.
Secondly, we will end marijuana prohibition and free up law enforcement to investigate and prosecute more serious offenses. We will also give consumers alternatives to the illicit market.
Consumers who don’t already participate in the medical program will have confidence that the products they’re buying are tested and safe.