Recreational marijuana is legal in Ohio, but bills try to change the law | cincinnati

Recreational marijuana is legal in Ohio, but bills try to change the law |  cincinnati

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Photo: Graham Stokes for the Ohio Capital Journal

BUCKEY LAKE, OHIO – AUGUST 17: Workers remove the lower leaves from marijuana plants to increase growth above in a flowering room, August 17, 2023, at the PharmaCann, Inc. cultivation and processing facility. In Buckeye Lake, Ohio.

Marijuana is now legal in Ohio, but lawmakers continue to try to game the law.

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday night that includes major changes to the law that the Ohio House could bring up for a vote next week.

Meanwhile, the Ohio House of Representatives has a bill in committee that adds clarifications to current law under Issue 2 — which Ohioans passed with 57% of the vote.

What does the bill approved by the Senate include?

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday night that would change home growth, increase the tax rate, change how revenue is distributed and add an automatic write-off. It would also speed up when Ohioans could purchase adult-use marijuana from dispensaries.

Sen. Rob McCauley, R-Napoleon, added changes to the state’s marijuana law that were later amended into House Bill 86 — a bill that previously had nothing to do with cannabis. HB 86 was introduced earlier this year by a delegate. Jeff Leary, R-Violet Twp., who would review the state’s liquor control laws.

Under the changes to HB 86, the marijuana tax rate would rise to 15% — an increase from Version 2’s 10% tax at the point of sale per transaction. The bill would also allow local governments and counties to impose an additional tax on top of the 3% marijuana tax.

HB 86 would limit home growing to six plants per household instead of Version 2’s six plants per person with 12 plants per residence.

“What the Senate passed (Wednesday) night is not what the voters supported,” said Tom Haren, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Alcohol Like Marijuana.

“The Senate bill completely eliminates the second issue,” he said. “We believe the best course of action is not to rush into making any changes and respect the will of the people.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine supports the bill, saying it helps eliminate the black market.

Senate Minority Leader Nikki J. Antonio, D-Lakewood, said during Wednesday’s Senate hearing that she hopes her House colleagues understand everything in this bill.

“If they can make it better, that’s great,” she said.

Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Arlington, told reporters Wednesday that she expects there will be a lot of conversation about marijuana law before the House of Representatives session next week.

“I definitely think there is some room to reach some clarity on specific issues, but I think there is… still a way to go,” she said.

What’s happening in the Ohio House?

State Rep. Jimmy Callender, R-Concord, introduced a bill earlier this week clarifying some of the language of the second version.

House Bill 354 would keep home grow the same as it was under Version 2 — six marijuana plants per person and 12 plants per household, clarifying that home grow must be done at a residential address.

“HB 354 is not intended to change the intent of Issue 2 or override the will of voters,” Callender said in testimony Wednesday. “Instead, it is intended to add clarity to which departments will be charged with managing and regulating adult use of cannabis in Ohio.”

This is how tax revenues would be distributed under HB 354:

  • 36% to the Host Community Cannabis Fund.
  • 36% to the Cannabis Social Justice and Jobs Fund.
  • 12.5% ​​of the Substance Abuse & Addiction Fund will go to Ohio’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Fund to administer the 988 system.
  • 10% of the Substance Abuse and Addiction Fund will provide mental health and addiction services in county jails.
  • 3% for the operations of the Marijuana Control Division and Tax Administration.
  • 2.5% for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop the state’s mental health workforce.

The bill also adds an additional 10% wholesale tax that would go to the Local Adult-Use Cannabis Jail Fund, the County Sheriff’s Adult-Use Cannabis Fund, the Cannabis Law Enforcement Training Fund, and the Cannabis Crime Victim Assistance Fund.

Russo said Callender’s bill is a good place to start.

“If you compare what the Senate is offering, I would certainly rank the bill before the House right now as perhaps being more in line with the will of the voters,” she said.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

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(Tags for translation)Recreational marijuana in Ohio

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