In a significant development, the Ohio Senate approved revisions to the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana on Thursday, just as Issue 2 officially became law. However, despite the green light, there is still no legal avenue for Ohioans to purchase it.
During a Senate General Government Committee meeting on Wednesday, key amendments to the marijuana law were agreed upon:
– Homegrown marijuana allowances were reduced from Issue 2’s 12 plants per household to six plants.
– Possession limits set by Issue 2 remain unchanged: 2.5 ounces for plants and 15 grams for extracts.
– THC content limit for plant material reverts to the Issue 2 level of 35%.
– Individuals aged 21 and above can immediately purchase from existing dispensaries once the bill takes effect, a departure from Issue 2’s nine-month waiting period.
– Automatic expungements for convictions involving 2.5 ounces and below, with proceeds from pot sales allocated for legal representation.
The Senate committee unanimously approved these changes, securing a decisive 28-2 vote in the full Senate. However, the bill’s fate now rests in the hands of the Republican-majority House, whose stance on recreational marijuana leans more favorably. GOP Governor Mike DeWine, who has signaled support for aligning with voter-approved basics, must also give his approval.
Governor DeWine, in a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse, seemingly endorsed the proposed changes, emphasizing the bill’s focus on practical implementation challenges and protection of families and non-marijuana users.
Despite the Senate’s approval, the absence of a legal purchasing avenue remains a challenge, acknowledged by Governor DeWine. He stated, “While it will be legal for Ohio citizens to possess marijuana, there will be no place for them to legally buy it. This bill deals with this.”
This revised bill arises amidst internal GOP disagreements between Senate and House members following the passage of Issue 2 by Ohio voters. Representative Jamie Callender introduced House Bill 354 on Tuesday, aiming to align with the will of Ohioans who supported Issue 2 with a 57% majority in November.
“We’ve worked with a lot of members, a lot of folks in the industry, a lot of supporters, and a lot of opponents over the last few years,” Callender explained. “HB 354 is a synthesis of all those opinions, respecting the will of the voters.” The future of recreational marijuana in Ohio now hinges on the House’s decision and Governor DeWine’s final approval.
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