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What you need to know about the recent marijuana legalization in Ohio (but were too afraid to ask)

What you need to know about the recent marijuana legalization in Ohio (but were too afraid to ask)

Jack McLaughlin

Some Ohians are rejoicing after last night’s news; others have a huge issue with Issue 2 passing. Either way, whichever category you fall under, here’s what you need to know about the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio. Also, keep in mind that Ohio lawmakers could change some of these rules in the upcoming months, according to The Department of Commerce.

What really was Issue 2? 
This measure, which a majority of Ohioans voted to pass at last night’s election, will allow Ohio adults, 21+, to buy, possess, and grow marijuana. So, your Short North apartment building might smell even more like weed next month than it already does.

Ohio is now the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and many states are benefitting from the increased revenue. For example, in Colorado, marijuana companies are paying 66% of Colorado’s “Clean Highway” program. In Ohio, on top of sales tax, Issue 2 proposed that marijuana products from dispensaries will be taxed an extra 10%, with revenue going towards a social equity and jobs program, municipalities with dispensaries, a substance abuse fund, and administrative costs.

When can I start using marijuana?
Well, the measure is still in the “initiated state,” meaning it becomes part of the Ohio Revised Code in 30 days. Starting December 7th, 2023, Ohioans can consume marijuana legally and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, plus 15 grams of marijuana extracts. But there are caveats to all of that.

Where and when can I buy marijuana legally?
That’s an excellent question – right now, if you don’t have a medical license, you can’t buy marijuana legally in Ohio, and you most likely won’t be able to on December 7th, either. 

It’s going to take awhile before recreational dispensaries start popping up around town. First, The Division of Cannabis Control must set some rules on licensing, product standards, packaging, where it can be sold – everything that comes with legalizing, distributing, and selling a new product, really.

The Division of Cannabis Control has nine months to create a a solid plan and start distributing the first round of licenses to recreational dispensaries, and then in another two years, they can start giving out more licenses, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s website. All that to say, it’s not a quick process by any means.


Wait, so can I just grow my own?
Yup! Starting on December 7th. You must be 21+ years old, and you can only grow six plants individually, or up to 12 plants total for 2 or more adults living in the house. 

Keep in mind that landlords have a say in this, too. They can ban marijuana plants being grown in the home they own, but only if this is part of their lease agreement!

Can I light up a joint in public?
This gets a little tricky, and some say the language is unclear. Technically, Ohio has a smoking ban, where you’re not allowed to smoke anything made of plants (so, even cigarettes) in enclosed areas that are open to the public (remember the bad ol’ days, when people were smoking cigarettes inside of a Wendy’s?!).

With this smoking ban that’s already in effect, there are some exceptions. You can smoke cigarettes on patio spaces, designated smoking areas, and some designated smoke shops, and it’s probable that the Division of Cannabis Control could implement the same type of exceptions for marijuana. But again, it’s up to them to decide the rules for public usage.

Think of it this way: you can’t drink a bottle of beer on a sidewalk, or else you could be cited. It will probably be the same case with marijuana. 

Can I still be drug tested at work?
Yes, you absolutely can. Just because it’s legal, this doesn’t mean your workplace allows it. Public and private employers are still able to create their own guidelines and rules surrounding marijuana consumption. So, if you fail a drug test on or past December 7th, your employer has the right to fire you or not hire you at all. 

Can you be high behind the wheel?
No, absolutely not. Don’t do it, don’t try it. Driving while under the influence of cannabis is still considered an OVI.

I’m not able to drive to buy marijuana – can I get it delivered?
A delivery option will be available! But not right away. Eventually, dispensaries will have mobile & delivery options, but first, the Division of Cannabis Control has to set rules and guidelines for that. Check back in nine months.

I’m a business owner – can I incorporate marijuana into my food, drinks, or items?
While “Cannabis bars” are on the rise in states with legalized recreational marijuana, where you can consume cannabis in a lounge area, this doesn’t mean restaurants and bars are selling cannabis products. It’s not likely you’ll find a bar selling cocktails with both alcohol and cannabis in the drink anywhere in the U.S. It’s also not likely you’ll walk into a bakery and find your favorite baker now making and selling edibles. Marijuana is highly regulated, especially now with it being legalized. 

It’s going to be up to the Division of Cannabis Control of course, but trends in the other 23 states with legalized recreational marijuana only allow marijuana products to be purchased at regulated dispensaries, both in-person or online.

Will those in jail for marijuana convictions be released now that it’s legal?
No. While some other states chose to expunge criminal records once marijuana became legal, this was not a provision on Ohio’s Issue 2 ballot.

Note: The information in this story is only relevant to the passage of Issue 2 in Ohio’s November, 2023 elections. Make sure to consult local laws yourself before partaking in anything that could possibly be illegal.

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