Is Cannabis Legal In Ohio? Understanding Ohio’s New Recreational Market

Is Cannabis Legal In Ohio? Understanding Ohio’s New Recreational Market

By De’Andrea Cherry

In 2023, Ohio made history as the 24th state in the United States to legalize cannabis for adult, recreational use. While this achievement marks an exciting victory for cannabis advocates, it is crucial to delve into the journey that led to this milestone and anticipate what lies ahead for the Buckeye State in 2024.

Back in 2016, Ohio paved the way for medical marijuana legalization with the passage of House Bill 523, following an unsuccessful attempt at recreational legalization in 2025. This legislative move became a turning point in the state's approach to cannabis, establishing the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP). Tasked with overseeing various facets of the medical marijuana industry, including cultivation, processing, testing, and dispensing, the OMMCP has facilitated the emergence of medical dispensaries in major cities across Ohio, garnering increasing support for recreational legalization. This momentum received a significant boost after neighboring Michigan expanded its cannabis operations and legalized recreational use in 2018, prompting many Ohioans to seek easier access outside the state.

Despite frustrations voiced by advocates over the years regarding the perceived lack of progress in cannabis legalization, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine maintained a clear stance against recreational cannabis use. Before his re-election in 2022, DeWine categorically opposed the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, deeming it a "mistake." However, fate took a different turn in the hands of Ohio voters on November 7th, 2023, as the initiative appeared as Issue 2 and received approval by a 57–43 margin. Thirty days later, the initiative took effect, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

While this legalization was a victory for Ohio cannabis advocates, just days before the measure was set to take effect when the GOP-controlled Senate proposed changes to the already voter-approved bill, these proposed changes included removing the option for home cultivation, imposing caps on THC in flowers and concentrates, eliminating social equality programs, and allocating cannabis tax revenue to fund law enforcement, alongside proposed tax increases. In response, Ohioans passionately engaged with legislators, taking to the streets and the stands for testimony. Consequently, any bill amendments were deferred to 2024.

So, what are the laws in Ohio?

  • As of December 7th, 2023, in Ohio, adults aged 21 and over can now possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams (½ oz) of concentrate.
  • Personal cultivation of six plants is permitted, with a maximum of 12 plants per home.
  • Cannabis sales are allowed at licensed dispensaries, subject to a 10 percent sales tax. Tax revenue is allocated among social equity and jobs programs (36 percent), localities permitting dispensaries (36 percent), education and substance abuse programs (25 percent), and administrative costs (3 percent).

Unfortunately, Ohioans will have to wait until mid to late 2024 for the earliest possible recreational sales. Despite the work that lies ahead, there is still cause for celebration in the Buckeye nation!

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