Ohio lawmakers reintroduce recreational marijuana bill as ballot drive continues

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A bipartisan group of Ohio state lawmakers reintroduced a recreational marijuana legalization bill this week.

Separately, a signature-gathering drive continues for a long-gestating adult-use legalization ballot initiative that could go before voters in November.

Ohio lawmakers have previously tried to legalize adult use via the legislative process, but without success.

A similar bill was introduced in the Ohio General Assembly in 2021 but didn’t receive a hearing.

If House Bill 168, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jamie Callender and Democratic state Rep. Casey Weinstein, were to be heard and become law:

  • Marijuana would be legal to cultivate and possess for Ohioans 21 and older.
  • Retail cannabis sales would be taxed at 10%, the same rate the ballot initiative proposes.
  • Criminal convictions for marijuana cultivation and possession could be expunged.
  • Commercial cultivation, processing and sales would be regulated by a newly renamed Division of Marijuana Control, which would oversee both medical and adult-use cannabis.

“It’s time for Ohio to act on this before we fall too much further behind our neighbors,” Weinstein said in a news release.

Adult-use is good for our economy, good for our justice system, and the right thing to do.”

Limited polling last year showed a majority of Ohio voters favor legalization.

Earlier this year, lawmakers declined to enact language from a ballot proposal that a court challenge kept off Ohio’s November 2022 ballot.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has until July 5 to collect roughly 124,000 signatures from registered voters in half of Ohio’s 88 counties.