Ohio’s voter-approved initiative legalizing adult-use cannabis officially went into effect as it was written on Thursday morning.
However, the program could soon receive a makeover as lawmakers in the statehouse continue to negotiate over some of the measure’s biggest items.
The Ohio State Senate on Wednesday passed a slew of amendments to Issue 2. The revisions – part of House Bill 86, which passed 28 to 2, enables the cultivation of up to six plants per household for personal use.
Lawmakers earlier this week also considered reducing the adult possession limit for cannabis to one ounce of plant material and five grams of extract. But by Wednesday night, authors of the revisions conceded to the original law’s statutes, which placed the limits at 2.5 ounces and 15 grams, respectively.
In addition, the amendments include provisions for expunging records of individuals previously convicted for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis.
The Senate’s modifications also accelerate the timeline for those to begin buying from dispensaries. The original law predicted a nine-month waiting period, but the new amendments will allow purchases as early as 90 days from now.
That change is anticipated to more quickly address the illicit market by providing quicker access to regulated products, lawmakers said this week.
According to Law360, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at a press conference Wednesday signaled support of the proposed changes.
“We have an obligation to implement a safe legal market in Ohio for those people who want to use recreational marijuana,” he said.
The amendments follow the November approval of Issue 2 by Ohio voters.
Another key change: Adult-use cannabis sales will be taxed at 15%, with local governments having the option to add an additional tax of up to 3%. Ohio’s adult-use statute originally levied a 10% tax on recreational sales.
The original cap on THC levels will remain at 35% for plant-based materials. However, the new revisions lower the maximum THC content in extracts, reducing it from the current 90% to 50%, according to the bill text.
The amendments also extend public smoking bans to marijuana and mandate child-safe packaging for cannabis products.
The state reported 369,587 registered medical patients as of September’s end, making it the third-largest market in the country, behind Florida and Pennsylvania.
According to Beau Whitney of Whitney Economics, financial projections for the year 2023 suggest a market value of $520 million. Actual sales have reached $360 million through September. With these figures, Ohio currently ranks 16th in the nation in terms of legal market size.
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