The new law allows adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The measure creates a Division of Cannabis Control, which is responsible for setting up and regulating the adult-use cannabis market.
The regulations give existing medical operators first dibs on the adult-use market, but also allows licensing additional operators depending on market needs.
Cannabis will be taxed at 10 percent. An Ohio State University report estimates that legal marijuana will generate about $300 million a year in revenue for the state.
Ohio voters rejected a ballot question to legalize marijuana in 2015, in large part because the language of the amendment would have essentially handed over the industry to the campaign’s 10 wealthy donors.
Because the measure is statutory and not a constitutional amendment, lawmakers can amend or even repeal it altogether.
Given the strong margin of passage, advocates don’t think lawmakers will try to repeal it.
But Republican Senate President Matt Huffman said before Election Day he would seek to make changes, targeting a provision that would set aside 36 percent of cannabis tax revenues for a social equity and jobs fund.
With a population of 11.8 million, Ohio will become the fourth largest state with a recreational market. Adult-use sales could reach $4 billion by the fourth year of legal cannabis, estimates MJBizDaily.
The launch of Ohio’s market will also likely put pressure on neighboring states Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, since their residents will undoubtedly be crossing the border to buy weed – and contribute tax dollars – in the Buckeye State.
Sales are slated to start by the end of 2024 if the measure is implemented as written.
But with the Republican-dominated Legislature critical of the initiative, there could be a lengthy legislative battle over amendments. That would likely delay implementation and potentially give rise to a stubborn illicit market.