History has been made in Ohio! lawmakers have officially filed a bill to legalize marijuana recreationally. We reported that this bill was coming, but it has officially been filed at this point.
This is big for the state. It paves the way for citizens to be able to grab some rolling papers and a gram of good flower without fear of criminal charges. The bill is the first effort of its kind in the state legislature, as activists have been pursuing a separate ballot initiative that would effectively force lawmakers to consider marijuana reform. The legislation was filed by Representatives Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch weeks after circulating a co-sponsorship memo to colleagues to build support for the measure.
The 180-page projected law would legalize possession of up to five ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow them to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use. It also includes a provision to expunge past convictions for possession and cultivation activities that are being made legal under the act. There will be a 10 percent excise tax would be imposed on marijuana sales, with revenue first going toward the cost of implementation and then being divided amongst municipalities with at least one marijuana dispensary (15 percent), counties with at least one shop (15 percent), K-12 education(35 percent), and infrastructure(35 percent). In a press release, Rep. Weinstein said, “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”
The state Department of Commerce would be responsible for overlooking the program and issuing cannabis business licenses. While individual municipalities could restrict the type and number of marijuana businesses that operate in their area, the bill specifically states that the existing medical marijuana program would not be impacted by the establishment of an adult-use market. Rep. Upchurch also gave a few words, saying, “This bill is much needed in Ohio, and it’s time for Ohio to become a national leader in marijuana decriminalization and legalization.” He further noted, “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.”
The potential passing of this piece of legislation is massive for not just the state of Ohio, but also the entire marijuana community. It shows that barriers are being broken down in the case of cannabis reform and legalization.