Ohioans Celebrate Historic Vote Legalizing Recreational Cannabis

On November 7, 2023, Ohio made history by becoming the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. Voters passed Issue 2 by a comfortable margin, with over 55% voting yes. This citizen-led ballot initiative marks a major milestone in Ohio’s journey towards progressive drug policy reform.

The successful campaign and passage of Issue 2 reflects shifting public attitudes, with a clear majority now supporting regulated access to cannabis. Advocates in Ohio have worked for years to advance incremental reforms, from decriminalization in the 1970s to legal medical marijuana in 2016. After multiple failed attempts, the electorate has now embraced full legalization.

Ohioans Celebrate Legalization of Recreation Marijuana
Ohioans Celebrate Legalization of Recreation Marijuana

What the New Law Allows

Issue 2 legalizes possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrate for adults 21 and older. It also allows home cultivation of up to 6 plants per person, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

The measure establishes a new Division of Cannabis Control to oversee the licensing and regulation of commercial marijuana cultivation, processing, testing and sales. The agency will begin developing rules and regulations, with legal sales expected to launch by late 2024.

All cannabis products will be subject to a 10% tax at point of sale, in addition to standard state and local sales tax. The tax revenue will help fund regulation, addiction treatment programs, and a social equity program assisting disadvantaged groups.

Celebrating a New Chapter in Ohio

a fun-looking anamorphic pot leaf character with bloodshot eyes smoking a spliff

Passage of Issue 2 is a historic milestone on Ohio’s journey of cannabis law reform. After decades of prohibition, residents can now possess and grow marijuana legally. In the coming years, a regulated adult-use industry will take shape, generating thousands of new jobs and tax revenue for communities across the state.

Advocates emphasize that legalization is about more than just allowing recreational use. It represents a shift towards policies that promote social justice, public health, and economic opportunity for all Ohioans. Though work remains to repair past harms of prohibition, the state is embracing a new future with legal cannabis.

As regulations develop in 2023 and 2024, Ohioans can look forward to the first legal recreational dispensaries opening. Meanwhile, residents are celebrating this vote as a victory for progressive drug policy and personal freedom. The Buckeye State is leading the Midwest in cannabis reform.

Here is a detailed timeline summarizing the key events in Ohio’s marijuana legalization process:

Ohio Marijuana Legalization Timeline

1975

  • Ohio becomes one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana possession. Possession of up to 100 grams is reduced to a minor misdemeanor with a maximum $150 fine.1

2015

  • A ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana fails, with 64% of voters opposed. The measure would have created a monopoly on commercial marijuana growth.2

June 2016

  • Gov. John Kasich signs HB 523 legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio. The program launches in 2019.3

November 2015

  • An Ohio ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana fails, with 64% of voters opposed. It proposed a monopoly on commercial growth.2

January-August 2022

  • The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collects over 200,000 signatures to put recreational legalization on the 2022 ballot. But they fall just short of the required valid signatures.4

May-August 2023

  • After a court settlement, the Coalition restarts signature gathering for the 2023 ballot. They ultimately collect enough valid signatures to qualify.5

November 7, 2023

  • Ohio voters approve Issue 2, legalizing recreational marijuana possession, home grow, and sales for adults 21+. It passes with about 56% support.1

2024

  • The new law requires the state to have recreational sales regulations in place by September 2024. Legal sales are projected to launch by late 2024.1

2025

  • The state legislature could attempt to alter or repeal parts of the voter-approved law. But they face public support for legalization.6

In summary, Ohio has incrementally reformed its marijuana laws over time, from decriminalization in the 1970s to medical legalization in 2016. After multiple failed attempts, recreational marijuana was legalized by voters in November 2023. The first legal sales are expected by late 2024.

You can read the full text of Issue 2 here. An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis.

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