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Ohio lawmaker proposes using marijuana tax revenue to fund police training

Published By Dayton Daily News on November 14, 2023
Cindy Abrams In The News

An Ohio representative is proposing a bill that would use $80 million in tax revenue from the sale of adult use marijuana to fund law enforcement officer training.

Under the proposal, the first $40 million in adult use marijuana tax revenue each year over the next two years would go to Law Enforcement Assistance Fund for training, Rep. Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, said during a press conference Tuesday.

 The bill is the first proposal to rework Ohio’s Issue 2, an initiated statute that was approved by Ohio voters earlier this month. Now that it’s a passed law, the Republican-controlled Ohio Statehouse has the ability to amend its specifics, with tax revenue being one of the most glaring areas of opportunity.

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, told reporters Tuesday that he’d like to see the legislature’s final plan go into place before the law goes into effect on Dec. 7. House Democrats say that is unlikely. Both sides are still debating how their caucus would like to see tax revenues handled.

In her Tuesday press conference, Abrams, a former police officer in Cincinnati, noted the General Assembly has been trying to find a permanent funding stream for law enforcement training and that the passage of Issue 2 has a public safety component, since officers would be the ones responding to any 911 calls regarding impairment.

Abrams added she’s a big supporter of law enforcement training, saying all officers in Ohio should have access to top-notch training.

“Training saves lives,” she said. “Every one of our law enforcement officers should have access to quality training, and this bill will ensure this is Ohio’s reality with sustainable funding. Training sets law enforcement up for success, increases public safety, and strengthens community relations.”

Issue 2 legalizes possession of a small amount of marijuana for adults 21 and over. It only allows sale of marijuana through a regulated dispensary and taxes each purchase at 10%.

Under Issue 2 as passed by voters on Nov. 7, tax revenues would be split 3% to cover regulatory efforts; 25% toward a substance abuse and addiction services fund; 36% toward a fund to create loans, grants and technical assistance to minority or disadvantaged business owners in the industry; and 36% toward revenue for local governments where recreational businesses exist.

The regulatory framework to allow legal sale of recreational marijuana is not expected to be in place until mid-2024 at the earliest.

Since Issue 2 was a citizen-initiated statute, state lawmakers can amend it without a public vote.

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