Ohio lawmakers propose retail cap, higher taxes in cannabis law changes

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Initial changes to Ohio’s adult-use cannabis legalization law recently approved by voters advanced through the state Senate on Wednesday.

If approved by the full General Assembly, the changes would mean legal adult-use cannabis could go on sale in Ohio as soon as the bill is signed into law rather than nine months from now.

However, the tweaked measure also includes a statewide cap on adult-use shops, increased taxes for recreational marijuana operators, big cuts to commercial cultivation, a limit of 50% THC for extracts and the elimination of a requirement to issue more MJ business licenses.

Possession of recreational marijuana became legal Thursday based on the November vote that made Ohio the 24th state to legalize adult use. The District of Columbia also has legalized recreational cannabis.

Even before 57% of Oho voters approved adult-use legalization, Republican state lawmakers promised to make alterations in the law, and after it passed, GOP Gov. Mike DeWine demanded change.

Proposed changes materialized in House Bill 86, a measure originally written to address Ohio liquor laws but modified after the November election to also address marijuana.

HB 86 passed the state Senate on Wednesday with only two votes in opposition, the Ohio Capital Journal reported.

If passed by the full General Assembly and signed into law by DeWine, the bill would:

  • Allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational products.
  • Cap the allowable potency of extracts at 50% THC and flower at 35%.
  • Cap the total number of storefronts allowed in the state at 350.
  • Eliminate social equity provisions.
  • Raise an excise tax charged at the point of sale from 10% to 15% while also eliminating a cultivation tax.
  • Eliminate a state requirement to issue up to 40 new cultivator and 50 new retail licenses.
  • Reduce the largest allowable commercial cultivator from 100,000 square feet to 25,000.
  • Cut the allowance of 12 home-grown plants per residence to six.
  • Limit legal marijuana smoking to private residences.
  • Ban outright “transfer of homegrown marijuana,” with or without payment.

The bill would become law within 90 days of DeWine’s signature.