Ohio Cannabis Legalization: Current Law & Predictions for the Future
Ohio voted to legalize adult-use cannabis on November 7th of last year, becoming the 24th state to legalize and the 14th state to do so through a public vote. Voters approved Issue 2 with 57% of the vote, and support for the state’s burgeoning cannabis market is strong.
“The potential for the Ohio cannabis market cannot be overstated,” said Warren Bunch, Co-Founder of CannaSpyglass. “We’re excited to see what the future holds for this emerging market, and we are already gearing up to be the first data provider to offer adult-use cannabis license data for Ohio.”
The state, which is home to nearly 12 million people, is the country’s seventh-most-populous state and could see the addition of 3,300 new jobs within the first year of cannabis legalization, according to a recent economic analysis. Additionally, Ohio’s legalization of adult-use cannabis could generate an estimated $260 million annually for the state’s economy.
Current Ohio Cannabis Law
The new cannabis law went into effect on December 7th, and Ohioans over the age of 21 can now lawfully possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and 15 grams of extract. Issue 2 also currently allows for home growing; adults can grow up to six plants, and households with more than one adult can grow up to a dozen plants.
In addition to state laws, municipalities also have the authority to enact restrictions on cannabis business activities within their borders. Similar to other legalized states like New Jersey, cities in Ohio can limit the number of licensed cannabis operators or ban them altogether. Since Issue 2 passed, multiple municipalities have passed moratoriums on the distribution, cultivation, processing, and sale of recreational cannabis, including the cities of Hamilton, Kettering, and Beavercreek.
Though some cities are hesitant to allow cannabis operations, others are ready to embrace the adult-use market. Cities like Cleveland have announced they will no longer screen some job applicants for cannabis, while several businesses in central Ohio began welcoming cannabis consumers on their outdoor patios on the first day of legal adult use in the state.
Although adults in Ohio can now legally possess and grow cannabis, it will be months before retail sales begin for adult use. While the medical market is still thriving, legislators have not yet established a path forward for medical dispensaries aiming to serve the recreational sector. In the meantime, consumers will need to get their cannabis in neighboring states like Michigan, though they cannot bring that cannabis back across state lines or from the legacy market.
The Future of Adult-Use Cannabis in Ohio
The voter-passed Issue 2 gives Ohio nine months to set up a system for legal cannabis purchases, and the state’s Division of Cannabis Control might not begin accepting cannabis business applications until June. This means that legal cannabis sales will likely not begin until late summer or early fall of 2024.
Since state lawmakers have the option of amending the provisions of Issue 2, there is currently an open discussion surrounding possible reforms prior to licensing operators. Some of the proposed reforms include reducing household grow limits, setting a state-wide license cap, updating cannabis tax rates and fund allocations, reducing THC content maximums, establishing an expungement process for individuals with cannabis-related charges, and creating a pathway to allow medical dispensaries to begin adult-use sales.
Since Ohio state lawmakers have near-unlimited authority to modify voter-approved initiatives, it is possible that the finalized legislation will be different from the version of Issue 2 that was presented to voters. While it is unlikely that modifications to Issue 2 will be finalized before the end of the year, cannabis advocates are hopeful that these edits will respect the will of Ohio voters.
Although many details about the adult-use cannabis market in Ohio are unclear, the future looks bright for this emerging market. Stay tuned to our CannaBites blog for additional updates about the Ohio cannabis market and the US cannabis industry!
CannaSpyglass offers cannabis data subscription services that provide dependable, on-demand, and exclusive industry analytics. Our insights cover vital data on cannabis cultivation, business statistics, and enterprise information within the rapidly growing cannabis sector. Whether you are an established industry leader seeking business expansion or a lawmaker requiring essential research to inform policy, our up-to-date, cloud-based data can be tailored to your specific interests and regions.