Ohio is finally moving forward with a plan to implement adult-use cannabis sales in the state.

Ohio voters approved Issue 2 in November 2023, making it the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. According to the new state law, adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home (with a 12-plant total per household as long as two adults live there). It also implemented a 10% tax on all cannabis purchases. These changes took effect starting on Dec. 7, 2023.

At the time, Rep. Jamie Callender said that the delay in implementing a plan for legal sales was “…to make sure we’re thoughtful, that we’ve had adequate time to look at it and deal with the things that don’t go into effect immediately.”

While it’s legal to purchase cannabis in Ohio, there’s currently no legal place to do so, until now. The Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) met on May 13, where it discussed and approved new rules to allow medical cannabis dispensaries to sell non-medical cannabis products.

According to AP News’ recent coverage of the news, the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) superintendent, Jim Canepa, said that applications would be made available no later than June 7. “I don’t want to give anyone false hopes,” Canepa said. “We’re following the timeline in the initiated statute. We have a small but mighty staff, but there’s bandwidth there.”

The Ohio Cannabis Coalition’s (OCC) spokesperson, Tom Haren, added a comment explaining that the DCC has been “working tirelessly” to meet the various deadlines for sales. “Our members have obviously been anticipating the rollout of adult-use sales,” Haren said of the OCC team’s recent work. “They’ve been working on getting processes in place, making whatever changes they need to to procedures. We’re really excited.”

Canepa explained that allowing medical cannabis dispensaries to sell adult-use products is just one set of rules necessary to fully flesh out the program as a whole. The deadline for these rules is Sept. 7, 2024.

More recently Callender said that this slower but controlled pace is exactly what he was hoping for.

Just after Issue 2 was approved by voters, Gov. Mike DeWine called on legislators to immediately amend the law before it took effect on Dec. 7, 2023. “My recommendation to the General Assembly is that they take action to make sure that both rights are protected,” said DeWine. “People have a right to smoke it. People have a right to consume it. But also that everybody else’s who doesn’t choose to do so is also protected with their rights as well.” The Senate applied changes such as prohibiting home cultivation, reducing the possession amount, and increasing taxes from 10% to 15%.

However, these changes didn’t take effect because the House adjourned before a vote could be made. House legislators said that the Senate was going against the “will of the people” by attempting to change the Issue 2 law after voters voted on the topic. Over time, both the Senate and the House appear to mostly be in agreement. “We’ve gotten past a lot of the fears that many of the senators and the governor’s office had originally—and have gotten to the point where they’re saying ‘Oh, yeah, this is gonna work,’” Callender said. 

Callender added that more issues need to be addressed, because they’re “not consistent with what voters voted on.” This includes changes necessary for child safety packaging, restrictions on cannabis marketing, and protecting business owners. “I think at this point we’ve gotten past a lot of the fears that many of the senators and the Governor’s Office had originally, and we’ve gotten to the point where they’re saying, ‘Oh, this is going to work,’” Callender said.

Ohio-based cannabis business owners are excited to see the program moving forward. Ohio Capital Journal spoke with edibles maker Phoebe DePree about the recent announcement. “It’s exciting for us because that adds an element of convenience to consumers. It’s a real opportunity for us,” DePree said.

Brian Vicente of Vicente LLP called the progress “a sensible starting point for the Buckeye state” when the draft rules were first released. “Unlike recent legalization states like New York that opted to draft legalization regulations from scratch, the Ohio rules clearly borrowed ideas from earlier states—resulting in a refreshing level of sophistication and understanding of the needs of both cannabis consumers and business owners,” Vicente told High Times in April. “These regulations include commonsense ‘best practices’ for businesses in important areas like waste disposal and quality assurance, which should lead to a smooth roll-out and ongoing operations. Consumers will be able to access cannabis from stores until 11 p.m. and through drive-up windows, which will foster widespread access.”

According to the Associated Press, the DCC still needs to file the new rule with JCARR, followed by the Legislative Service Commission, and Secretary of State office, before May 22.

The post Ohio Committee Approved Adult-Use Sales Plan first appeared on High Times.


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