COLUMBUS – Cannabis would be legalized, taxed, and regulated under legislation announced today by State Representatives Jamie Callender and Ron Ferguson.
The “Ohio Adult-Use Act” would extend Ohio’s current medical marijuana program to include non-medicinal adult use, putting in place a responsible, highly regulated framework for the growth, processing, distribution, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for Ohioans 21 and over.
The plan would impose a 10 percent sales tax on adult-use marijuana and marijuana products, with funding dedicated to combat chemical dependence and illegal drug trafficking, and support the state’s General Revenue Fund.
Nearly a third of states have authorized adult-use, including four this year: Connecticut, New Mexico, Virginia and New York. The Ohio Adult-Use Act builds on best practices from around the country.
“Across Ohio and America, there is strong public support for responsible laws allowing those 21 and over to legally purchase and use marijuana and marijuana products,” said Callender (R-Concord). “It’s time that we think seriously about where our state will fit in this growing market and position ourselves for the best possible outcome. This proposal starts that conversation.”
Under the bill, Ohio’s successful Medical Marijuana Control Program would be extended to also regulate the non-medical cultivation, processing, sale, and adult-use of cannabis products. It would be renamed the Division of Marijuana Control to reflect its role in running both the medical marijuana and adult-use programs.
Building on the current program is one of the keys for having a secure adult-use initiative, including ensuring juveniles and other Ohioans under the age of 21 are barred from access to marijuana and marijuana products.
“This is an issue of individual rights, and there is strong public support for responsible laws allowing those 21 and over to legally purchase and use marijuana and marijuana products,” said Ferguson (R-Wintersville). “We believe it’s important that Ohio’s adult-use program be secure and responsible, from seed to sale.”
All sales would take place in secure, regulated and approved locations, and only to Ohioans 21 and over with a valid ID.
In addition to legislative action in state capitols across the country, there is also federal debate on the issue. Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, but efforts to de-schedule it are gaining traction.
“Ohio should act quickly on this issue,” Callender said. “Failure to establish guardrails will put Ohio at a disadvantage economically and could jeopardize the safety Ohio’s adult users moving forward.”
Supporters of the announced proposal include PharmaCann, a licensed cultivator and processor with 3 dispensary locations and Acerage Holdings, also licensed to cultivate, process, and dispense marijuana products in Ohio. They stated the following:
“The PharmaCann foot print in Ohio is growing and aims to be the ‘most admired in the industry’ thanks to leaders like Representatives Callender and Ferguson,” said Cardi Campbell, General Manager PharmaCann at the Buckeye Lake facility.
“We recognize that Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program in its current state is restrictive and limits access to medical cannabis for many patients in Ohio. We’re grateful to Representatives Callender and Ferguson for creating a thoughtful program expansion, which would enable a greater number of Ohioans access to their medicine while also creating additional jobs and economic benefits,” said Kate Nelson, General Manager of Ohio, Acreage Holdings.
Other highlights of the legislation include:
- Requiring tight controls in the marijuana cultivation and distribution processes to assure a high standard of quality and safety with the Department of Commerce in charge of compliance.
- Preventing the State of Ohio from discriminating against individuals engaged in legal, adult-use of marijuana who are seeking licensure from the state without jeopardizing employer choice or worker safety.
- Urging Congress to enact H.R. 3105 of the 117th Congress sponsored by Congressman Dave Joyce, which allows for the reasonable de-scheduling of marijuana and encouraging them to recognize the 2nd Amendment rights of Ohioans who legally use cannabis products in Ohio.