On November 7, 2023, Ohioans voted on Issue 2, which was to legalize recreational marijuana. The issue succeeded with over 56% of support from voters, making Ohio the 24th state in the country to pass such a law. It went into effect on December 7, 2023 (one month after Election Day). Cannabis is now regulated under Chapter 3780 of the Ohio Revised Code.
So, what changes did Issue 2 make to our laws in Ohio? Well, Ohioans over the age of 21 are now legally permitted to possess, consume, cultivate, process, and buy cannabis. Issue 2 allows for individuals to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 15 grams concentrates. Issue 2 also allows for Ohioans to grow up to 12 plants. Under Issue 2, cannabis products would be taxed at a rate of 10%, to be used to fund substance abuse treatment and a social equity and jobs program.
However, the law is likely subject to change in near future. The majority Republican Ohio General Assembly, which opposed Issue 2, is currently working to pass a bill to replace the law and undermine the will of voters. It is unclear what changes our politicians will make, but the proposals have included limiting THC content, stricter limits on amounts that can be possessed, increasing taxes, and redirecting tax revenue to fund the construction of more jails.
Although marijuana is legal in Ohio as of December 7, 2023, there is a lengthy regulatory process that vendors must go through before they are permitted to sell marijuana to the public. Therefore, it will likely be many months before Ohioans can actually legally purchase it from a dispensary. In the meantime, consumers should be wary of black-market products, which are not regulated and could contain harmful additives like fentanyl.
While the legalization of cannabis has caused seismic shifts to our state legal system, some aspects of our law remain unchanged. For example, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Just as before, any driver suspected of being high can be subjected to field sobriety tests. Oral swabs to detect marijuana are also becoming more commonly used by law enforcement, though this issue is likely to face legal challenges in the future as the accuracy of these tests is controversial.
The laws regarding marijuana are rapidly changing. At Fogt Law Office, we are constantly keeping a close eye on important legal changes as they develop. Are you facing legal trouble related to marijuana or other drugs? Do you have a past conviction that you would like to have sealed or expunged? Attorney Christopher Fogt is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney who has helped countless clients overcome their legal problems. Contact our office today!