by J.D. Davidson
The same week an Ohio group announced its plans to start the formal process to put marijuana legalization in front of the General Assembly, two lawmakers introduced legislation to legalize its recreational use.
“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, said. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”
The bill includes four key components: decriminalization, a marijuana excise tax, commerce and licensing and medical marijuana. It allows for adult cultivation and possession and calls for the expungement of conviction records for previous cultivation and possession offenses.
“This bill is much needed in Ohio, and it’s time for Ohio to become a national leader in marijuana decriminalization and legalization. This bill is more than just about legalization, it’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about healthcare. The time is now, and I look forward to getting this done in a bipartisan fashion,” Rep. Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, said.
Similar to the legislative plan from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the bill includes at 10% tax on a marijuana retailer or microbusiness’ gross marijuana sales receipts. That money would go to primary and secondary schools, roads and bridges repair and up to $20 million annually for clinical trials researching the effectiveness of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of veterans and preventing veteran suicide.
The coalition began the formal process last week to send proposed legislation to the statehouse by submitting the language of its plan to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. The submission of the first 1,000 signatures, according to group spokesman and attorney Tom Haren, will require Yost to review and approve the petition language within 10 days.
From there, the group needs 130,000 valid signatures to put potential legislation before lawmakers, who would have four months to decide. If legislators decline, the group could collect another 130,000 signatures to put the issue on a statewide ballot.
The group’s proposed law legalizes and regulates the cultivation, manufacturing, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for those age 21 and older. It also would legalize homegrown marijuana for adults age 21 and older with a limit of six plants a person or 12 a household. The proposal also would allow anyone age 21 and older to buy or possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
The proposed law calls for tax revenue to be used between state programs to benefit social equity and job programs, funding for communities that have adult-use dispensaries, funding for education and treatment for addiction issues and the Division of Cannabis Control for regulation and administrative costs.
Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and the first dispensaries opened in 2019.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Marijuana” by Elsa Olofsson (CC BY 2.0).