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Ohio Voters Legalize Weed in Defiance of GOP Leaders

Conservative lawmakers and groups could still meddle with citizen decision: ‘It’s not your grandfather’s marijuana.’




MPP was a major financial supporter of the Issue 2 campaign in Ohio. PHOTO COURTESY OD MPP.


In a significant difference from the positions of Republican Governor Mike DeWine and GOP lawmakers, Ohio voters have passed Issue 2, ushering in the legalization of cannabis. With a notable 55.6% approval from 54% of the votes counted, the decision signals a major shift in Ohio’s drug policy, yet it remains open to potential legislative changes.

“This is a great day for Ohio, which now joins the growing number of conservative-leaning states that have ended the injustice of cannabis prohibition,” said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which supported Issue 2.

Effective December 7, adults in Ohio can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, including 15 grams of concentrate, and cultivate up to six plants at home. Legal cannabis sales are anticipated to start in 2024. The legislation also sets aside funds for social equity and job programs, and initiates research into expungement and sentencing reform.

Ohio’s decision to legalize cannabis for adult use mirrors a broader national trend toward more progressive drug policies. According to a Gallup poll published today, legalization enjoys widespread support across the country, with 70% of Americans, including 87% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 55% of Republicans, in favor.

“The tipping point has been reached,” said Charles Bachtell, CEO of Chicago based Cresco Labs, in a statement. “Now, over 85 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state with some form of legal cannabis, and over 50 percent reside in a state with adult-use cannabis”. Cresco is a major player in Ohio’s medical cannabis market, which currently serves nearly 200,000 patients and generates approximately $500 million in annual sales. With the shift to adult-use sales, projections suggest a surge to over $1 billion in annual sales by 2025.


However, despite strong voter endorsement, the law’s future could still be shaped by its opponents. GOP legislators and business groups concerned about workplace and traffic safety impacts may seek to amend or repeal the law.

“They must’ve been smoking dope when they wrote it,” Senator Terry Johnson has said of Issue 2.

Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action, has called for the elimination of commercial sales, advertising, and production elements in Issue 2.

“This fight is not over,” Sabet warned in a statement quoted by the AP.

Republican Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman has raised concerns about THC limits in the law and criticized it as overly industry-centric, especially in a state grappling with the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine has also expressed concern with THC levels. “We’re dealing with different marijuana,” DeWine has been quoted as saying. “It’s not your grandfather’s marijuana.”




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