Ballot language approved for Ohio recreational marijuana measure

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Ballot language for an Ohio initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in the state has been finalized for the November election.

The Republican-controlled Ohio Ballot Board approved the language Thursday, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

If the proposal, known as State Issue 2, is approved by voters, it would allow Ohioans 21 or older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, 15 grams of concentrates and grow up to six plants per person or 12 per household.

It would also levy a 10% tax on cannabis sales as well as usual sales taxes.

Funds from the 10% tax would be redirected as follows:

  • 36% to a cannabis social equity and jobs fund.
  • 36% to a host community cannabis facilities fund.
  • 25% to the substance abuse and addiction fund.
  • 3% to the division of cannabis control and tax commission fund.

State Issue 2 would also create social equity retail and cultivation licenses for entrepreneurs who were disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

In a deviation from most other states – and a significant benefit for the industry – the ballot measure would prohibit local governments from singling out marijuana operators for additional taxes as well as restricting opt-outs.

Municipal opt-outs that essentially ban cannabis businesses or commerce have curtailed retail expansion and consumer access nationwide, stunting market growth from California to New York.

Similar to other recent recreational market rollouts in Connecticut, Maryland and Missouri, medical marijuana operators in Ohio will have a first-mover advantage.

The ballot initiative has already drawn heavy opposition, including the governor, since it qualified for the upcoming election.

Now, the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners – which represents 112 local health departments – also is opposing legalization, Cleveland.com reported.

The group joins Protect Ohio Workers and Families, the opposition campaign.

If passed, State Issue 2 would take effect 30 days after the election.

However, the measure is considered an initiated statute, which allows the Legislature to modify or repeal it.

However, the general expectation is lawmakers will uphold the will of the people, according to the Dispatch.