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Ohio Pot Legalization Bill Backed By 2 GOP Lawmakers

There’s a new push for Cannabis legalization in Ohio, this time being backed by two Republican state Representatives

Harm Reduction Ohio

There’s a new push for marijuana at the Ohio Statehouse. This time, it has the backing of two Republican lawmakers, reports WCMH.

Two Republican state representatives – Jamie Callender and Ron Ferguson – announced a new bill Tuesday that would legalize marijuana for recreational adult use in Ohio.

The bill would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to include adult-use cannabis. It would also impose a 10 percent sales tax. And it would, as well, create a path for expungement of past Cannabis offenses, removing them from the records.

Now remember, Republicans are introducing the bill. But spineless leaders of the Ohio GOP still officially oppose legalizing marijuana. Opponents of the bill include real GOP heavyweights like House Speaker Bob Cupp and Gov. Mike DeWine.

Will Ohio Be Ready? And What About Medical Marijuana?

Legal marijuana is coming to Ohio one way or another, many industry experts agree, reports News 5 Cleveland.

The first big question is, will Ohio be ready when legalization happens? The second major question, is how will it change the state’s existing, heavily-regulated medical program.

There’s a lot hanging on that second question. In fact it’s literally an existential concern for Ohio patients.

We Never Need Another Washington State

Many of them are quite aware of the horrorshow scenario in Washington state after voters approved adult-use legalization. If you happen not to be aware of what happened, there, I can provide you with an insider’s unvarnished assessment.

Patient access to effective cannabis medicines was, in effect, bulldozed to protect the corporate profits of licensed adult-use shops. Medical cannabis farmers’ markets — some of which had legally existed for more than a decade — were raided and shut down. The destructive effect on what had been a thriving, information-sharing, organic, supportive community of patients cannot be overstated.

The legislation comes as what looks suspiciously like a “me, too” to a Democratic bill. The Republicans are dropping their own legalization legislation just months after Democrats introduced a similar piece of legislation. There is also a ballot initiative that could be up for a vote as soon as 2022.

“The reality is, in a Republican-controlled legislature, you need Republicans on board to pass bills,” said Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson).

Adults Can Buy, Grow, and Possess Marijuana

Callendar hopes fellow lawmakers will favor his bill over an industry-backed effort to pass a law through the ballot box.

Surely you can see the historic significance of this political significance of this pregnant moment in Ohio history. Let me frame it for you. The fascinating fact is, Ohio is watching two (and three, if you count the one shot Democratic bill) separate paths to adult-use legalization develop.

The first path is through the traditional legislative process. The second path is through the citizen ballot initiative process, on an initiated statute. That’s how a group called Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol hopes to change the law.

Ohio Medical Operators Would Have Early Advantage

Current medical marijuana cultivators, processors and dispensary owners will be legal to operate on the adult-use side, Callender said in an interview. And adults age 21 and older could buy, possess and grow Cannabis.

If either the proposed legislation or the ballot initiative becomes law, Ohio’s existing medical marijuana businesses would have a sizable advantage. This is because they would be able to instantly shift their operations to create products for the adult-use market.

Other businesses would also be allowed to go through an application process to get additional Cannabis licenses. But that process and building their facilities would take time.

Ballot Measure Offers Social Equity; Legislation Funds Education, Roads and Bridges

The ballot initiative would use 36% of the tax on cannabis products to create the Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Fund. That’s a fund which provides assistance to people who meet certain criteria to help them get into the recreational Cannabis industry. Members of minority communities which were disproportionately impacted by the Drug War are typical recipients of these funds.

The legislation’s proposed tax would help fund education, road and bridges maintenance, and fund marijuana research.

The bill also would provide a way for Ohioans convicted of marijuana crimes eliminated in the bill to have their records sealed or expunged.

Callendar said his legalization bill should be written and ready by Thanksgiving, reports Cleveland.com.