The Ohio Senate wants to ban you from growing weed; The house resists
On Thursday, adults 21 and older in Ohio will be able to smoke weed and grow up to six plants.
When the second version passed in November, state Rep. Jimmy Callender (R-Concord) knew it could be a piece of public policy clarification. WEWS/OCJ’s Morgan Trouw called for HB 354 to be introduced in a “skeleton” session Tuesday morning. Skeleton sessions are when two lawmakers typically meet with the House clerk and take less than five minutes to introduce policy.
“We’re preserving the things that the people voted for,” Letrow said after he banged the gavel and was watched by Finance Chairman state Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville).
Callender, who has been an outspoken marijuana advocate, has been working on recreational enforcement for years. Issue 2 came after all his efforts were deliberately halted at the State House.
The Marijuana Legalization Initiative allows Ohioans to grow up to six plants, 12 per household. In addition, the proposal would impose a 10% tax at the point of sale for each transaction. It also creates a cannabis control division within the Ohio Department of Commerce.
Ohioans voted in favor of the law 57-43%.
“I’m glad it passed, and I’m excited that we’ll be able to take some of these actions that make it a more responsible business,” Callender said. “I want to make sure that here in this chamber, the House of the People, we implement the will of the people — and the people have spoken.”
His bill doesn’t offer major changes, but it does add safeguards — such as guidelines on advertising, bans on smoking in public places, and provisions that give local governments more say in where tax revenues go. It also explains that home growth should take place at residential addresses.
“We’ve seen people combine those six plants and create, in essence, a huge farm that is simply a collection or co-op of a large collection of houseplants,” he said, saying he is trying to prevent that.
The bill, which Callendar says has bipartisan support in the House, contrasts sharply with the Senate version.
The proposal from state Sen. Rob McCauley (R-Napoleon) also includes guardrails to prevent exposure to children, including advertising guidelines. It would require marijuana to be packaged in a child-resistant container and prohibit the use of “cartoon characters” or other popular culture figures whose target audience is a child in weed marketing.
However, these safety guidelines are the end of the common ground.
The Senate proposal would reduce the amount of weed you could possess from 2.5 ounces to 1 ounce and 15 grams of marijuana concentrate to 5 grams; It would make weed less potent by limiting the plants’ THC levels to 25%, when the minimum was 35%. Additionally, it will limit excerpts to 50%, when the minimum is 90%; It would make marijuana more expensive by raising the tax from 10% to 15%.
It also changes where taxes go.
As mentioned, there was a 10% tax at the point of sale. It was 36% revenue for the Cannabis Social Equality and Jobs Fund. 36% to the Host Community Cannabis Fund to provide funds to jurisdictions with adult-use dispensaries; 25% to the Substance Abuse and Addiction Fund; and 3% to the Department of Cannabis Control and the Tax Commissioner’s Fund. The second version capped the number of dispensaries allowed at one time at 350, but the bill reduced that to 230.
Read more about the Senate proposal by clicking here.
The Senate version amounts to a 15% tax at the point of sale. 30% goes to the Law Enforcement Training Fund, 15% to the Marijuana Abuse Treatment and Prevention Fund, 10% to the Safe Driver Training Fund, and the remaining 45% goes to the Super Revenue Fund – also known to state lawmakers.
“The social justice program — when you get down to it — was tax revenue collected to put back into the hands of industry,” McCauley said. “It was a tax grab by the industry to support more dispensaries within the industry.”
The “Social Justice and Jobs Program” was created in the second issue. It is designed to repair “the harms caused by disproportionate enforcement of marijuana-related laws” and “reduce barriers to ownership and opportunity” for those “most directly and adversely affected.” “By implementing laws related to marijuana,” according to the initiative.
The most significant change is that the proposal eliminates home growth.
“Dissent was everywhere in the black market,” McCauley said. “The question was, how do we preserve these plants and then have them illegally transported and sold?”
After facing backlash, McCauley maintained that he would not go against the will of the people, because he believed voters didn’t really know everything they were voting on.
“I think what voters really voted for was access to products,” the senator added.
It’s clear voters want the nation to grow, Callender said. Access to produce means access to home and growth, he said.
It’s not just Callender who is frustrated with the legislation’s passage in the other chamber. Dozens of Republican and Democratic representatives are angry with the Senate.
One person with a unique perspective is State Rep. Jeff Leary (R-Violet Twp). The Senate passed legislation, HB 86, which revised the maximum gallons of spirits a small distillery could make each year and added its own marijuana. Suggestion on his bill.
“A slap in the face to voters in Ohio,” Larry told WEWS/OCJ.
He added that the legislator does not support recreational marijuana, but respects the will of Ohioans.
“It is unfortunate that they want to use a bill focused on helping some small businesses recover from the pandemic to rush language that changes the purpose of a ballot initiative,” he said. “I think we should look at where tax dollars are being spent, but this goes beyond those details.”
Democrats agree. House Minority State Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) says she cannot and will not support the Senate version.
“I’m not a fan of turning my back on Ohio voters and going for what they said when they overwhelmingly approved Version 2,” Miranda said.
When asked what would happen if the two chambers didn’t reach a compromise, Callender said he would be better off — since only the House could block the Senate version.
He said: “I agree to allow the law that was proposed to enter into force, which is a very strong negotiating position.” “If we don’t get a deal, I’ll trust the rulemaking process, and I’ll trust trade to make good rules to do that.”
The Senate is expected to approve the marijuana bill out of committee Wednesday morning, bringing it to a full vote later today. The House version is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday as well.
This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content syndication agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other media outlets because it is owned by WEWS of Cleveland.
He follows WEWS State House reporter Morgan Trouw Twitter And Facebook.
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