In a groundbreaking decision, Ohio has officially become the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. With a resounding 57% of voters supporting the ballot proposal known as Issue 2, this victory marks a significant shift in the landscape of U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. This landmark decision paves the way for individuals aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis while also permitting home cultivation of up to six plants per person and 12 plants per residence if at least two adults reside there. Furthermore, a 10% tax will be levied on cannabis purchases, with the revenue allocated to cover administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries, and social equity initiatives and job programs.
The passing of Issue 2 signifies that the United States is just one state away from having adult-use cannabis legalized in half of the states. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) notes that the legal cannabis movement has already reached a tipping point in terms of population, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing process of loosening cannabis laws in the country. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano emphasized, “Today, for the first time since the federal government initiated federal cannabis prohibition in 1937, more people live in a place where marijuana is state-legal than reside somewhere where it isn’t. It borders on political malpractice for elected officials, and for Republican lawmakers especially, to sit on the sidelines at a time when more Americans than ever are demanding action.”
However, it’s worth noting that not all parties were in favor of this progressive change. Republican Governor Mike DeWine voiced his opposition to the measure, and the GOP-led Ohio Senate passed a resolution encouraging voters to reject the initiative, albeit unsuccessfully. Senate President Matt Huffman has expressed his intent to “revisit” provisions of the new law, hinting at possible legislative changes and even a repeal of the adult-use provisions.
Despite these efforts, the outcome of the vote clearly favored those supporting legal cannabis. According to the New York Times election results tracker, 57% of voters approved Issue 2, while only 43% opposed it.
The passage of Issue 2 was not entirely unexpected, as it was driven by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Prior to the vote, the organization managed to raise more than three times the funding amassed by the opposition group, Protect Ohio Workers and Families.
Businesses across Ohio are now gearing up to embrace the new adult-use cannabis law. NORML predicts that retail cannabis products will be subject to a 10% tax, with anticipated annual tax revenue ranging from $276.2 million to $403.6 million by the fifth year of sales. An additional analysis estimates that the law will create 3,300 new jobs within the first year of legalization.
Various figures within the cannabis industry have expressed their support for this groundbreaking decision in Ohio. Ben Kovler, CEO of Green Thumb Industries, highlighted the historic significance of the vote, saying, “Today marks another historic moment for the cannabis industry and for Ohio, as voters have chosen to end Prohibition 2.0 in the Buckeye State. This vote is not just about legalization; it’s a recognition that Americans are continuing to embrace cannabis for well-being.”
LeafLink, a company operating in 30 markets across the U.S., including Ohio, commended the decision, noting that the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Ohio presents a remarkable opportunity for the state. Rodney Holcombe, LeafLink’s Director of Policy, stated, “This vote presents a tremendous opportunity for the state where legal adult-use sales are projected to exceed $1 billion annually. We have witnessed firsthand the positive impact of legalized cannabis, including job creation, tax revenue for vital government services, and unique business opportunities for entrepreneurs. We urge Ohio officials to promptly enact the law, allowing their constituents to reap these benefits without delay.”
Timeless, a company specializing in concentrates in Ohio, also celebrated the outcome. Joshua Hirschey, President at Timeless Refinery, emphasized the potential economic benefits for the state, stating, “The vote to legalize cannabis in Ohio is a huge win for consumers who have let their voices be heard, as well as a win for the state with the potential to bring in $260M in additional tax revenue, and for operators like Timeless who will be able to serve a wider demographic.”
BDSA, a leading provider of market intelligence for the cannabis industry, expressed its commitment to providing insights for the evolving Ohio cannabis market. Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDSA, highlighted Ohio’s emerging importance in the cannabis industry, citing the state’s unique regulatory environment and growing acceptance of medical cannabis.
In addition to the legalization of adult-use cannabis, Issue 1, Ohio’s bill designed to protect the right to abortion, was also approved. Provisions in the cannabis law allowing the possession and home cultivation of marijuana by adults will take effect on December 7th, ushering in a new era for cannabis enthusiasts in Ohio.
Source: High Times
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