Early voting has begun in Ohio, and this year’s ballot includes a measure to fully legalize cannabis.
Early in-person voting began on Oct. 11, with Election Day on Nov. 2. If approved, Issue 2 would “commercialize, regulate, legalize, and tax the adult use of cannabis” and make Ohio the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis.
A report by Ohio State University estimates that the state could see between $257 million and $400 million annually in tax revenue through legalization.
The primary backer of Issue 2 is the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The group argues that Ohio’s existing medical cannabis law doesn’t provide enough access to cannabis for some patients and that legalization would bring in “hundreds of millions in tax revenue.”
In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis for adults over the age of 21, the law would also allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates. It would also legalize home growing, with adults allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. Households with more than one adult would be permitted to grow a total of 12 plants.
Revenue from the 10% sales tax established by Issue 2 would support:
Social equity and jobs programs (36%)
Towns that allow legal cannabis (36%)
Education and substance abuse programs (25%)
Administrative costs to create the system (3%).
It would also establish a Division of Cannabis Control under the State Department of Commerce.
Existing medical cannabis license holders would get priority in the adult-use market, with the measure requiring regulators to provide those operators new licenses within nine months of enactment of the law.
The division would also be required to issue 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 adult-use retailer licenses “with a preference to applications who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.”
A group of Republican state senators passed a resolution urging voters to say no to Issue 2.
The resolution states: “The proposed statute authored by the commercial marijuana industry does not serve the best interests of the people of Ohio, will bring unacceptable threats and risks to the health of all Ohioans, especially children, will create dangers in the workplace and unacceptable challenges and costs to employers, will make Ohio’s roads more dangerous, will impose significant new, unfunded costs to Ohio’s public social services, and serves only to advance the financial interests of the commercial marijuana industry and its investors.”
The coalition group pushed back against the opposition, asking television stations to quit running ads against Issue 2 that it says are full of mistruths. The group even created its own television ad to refute the opposition’s claims.
“With so much misinformation and lies coming from the other side, Ohioans deserve to hear the truth about Issue 2,” said Tom Haren, campaign spokesperson. “Our message focuses on the people who are relying on Issue 2 passing and the benefits to Ohio and our local communities.”
The coalition’s video includes people under the care of the Veterans Affairs who cannot receive a medical cannabis recommendation and many cancer-afflicted Ohioans being treated by a major medical system.
“Ohio is ready to regulate and tax marijuana for adults over the age of 21,” Haren said. “Our campaign is eager to continue to bring this message to Ohio voters and counter the ridiculous falsehoods being spread by our opponents.”
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