Two state lawmakers introduced legislation on Friday to legalize adult use of marijuana in Ohio. It’s the first time a bill of this kind has ever been introduced in the Ohio Legislature, reports Marijuana Moment. The legislators had previewed the bill two weeks ago.
Democratic State Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch said their bill will have four components. These, they explained, will be Decriminalization, a Marijuana Excise Tax, Commerce and Licensing, and Medical Marijuana.
The bill, running 180 pages, would legalize possession of up to five ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older. It would also allow them to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use. It additionally includes provisions to expunge prior convictions for possession and cultivation activities made legal under the measure.
The Ohio Department of Commerce would be responsible for overseeing the program and issuing cannabis business licenses.
Ohio Already Has Medical Weed
Medical marijuana is already legal in Ohio, reports WXIX. The State Medical Board of Ohio this year expanded qualifying medical conditions for someone to get a medical Cannabis card.
The new legislation would levy an excise tax of 10% on a retailer’s gross receipts from the sale of Cannabis.
Excise tax revenue would be distributed in part to primary and secondary (K-12) education. It would also fund the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges. Additionally, up to $20 million annually for two years would be used for clinical trials. The trials would, as well, research the efficacy of marijuana in treating the veterans and preventing veteran suicide.
“It’s Time To Lead Ohio Forward’
“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” Weinstein said. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”
“This bill is more than just legalization,” Upchurch said, reports Ohio News Time. “It’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about health care. Now is the time, and I look forward to accomplishing this in a bipartisan way.”
The bill now awaits a bill number and committee assignment, reports News 5 Cleveland.
Bill Drops Days After Citizen Initiative Kicks Off
The bill’s introduction comes days after a coalition kicked off a drive to place full Cannabis legalization on the ballot. In 2016, a similar effort led to the legalization (by the Legislature) of medical marijuana.
The current campaign could be an attempt to force the legislature’s hand once again, Cleveland.com reports. If lawmakers fail to act, or pass a modified version of the law, backers then could seek to take the original proposal for a statewide vote.
That initiative, backed by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, closely resembles the bill introduced by Weinstein and Upchurch, reports the Cleveland Scene. But it calls for a Department of Cannabis Control within the Ohio Department of Commerce. It also proposes that the 10% tax should fund social equity and jobs programs, communities that host marijuana dispensaries, and substance abuse research. It also requires that the tax fund administrative costs for the new Cannabis Control office.