What’s Next For Legal Weed in Ohio?

As we previously reported, 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.But what happens next? When can adults legally buy, possess and use cannabis in Ohio? Here’s an overview of the key next steps and estimated timeline based on the language of Issue 2:

What's Next For Legal Weed in Ohio
What’s Next For Legal Weed in Ohio

The Division of Cannabis Control Will Be Established

Within 9 months of Issue 2 passing, the state must establish the Division of Cannabis Control within the Department of Commerce. This division will be tasked with drafting rules and regulations for the new adult-use cannabis program, as well as licensing operators and overseeing the industry.

Rules and Regulations Will Be Created

The Division of Cannabis Control has a long list of rules and regulations to develop, including those related to licensing, product testing, security, advertising and more. The division must begin accepting license applications within 6 months of Issue 2 passing, so the expectation is rules will be drafted quickly within the first half of 2024.

Rules and Regulations Will Be Created by the Division of Cannabis Control
Rules and Regulations Will Be Created by the Division of Cannabis Control

Licensing of Cultivators, Processors and Testing Labs

The first licenses must be issued within 9 months of Issue 2 passing. Priority will be given to existing medical marijuana businesses to receive equivalent adult-use licenses. For example, current dispensaries will be licensed for adult-use sales, and cultivators can expand production. This ensures a smooth transition to the adult-use market.Up to 40 “microbusiness” cultivation licenses will also be issued, with preference given to social equity applicants.

Licensing of New Dispensaries

Initially, only existing medical dispensaries will be licensed for adult-use sales. The state will license up to 50 additional standalone adult-use dispensaries starting in 2025. Again, priority will be given to social equity applicants.

Adult-Use Sales Can Legally Begin

Once rules are in place and licenses have been issued to cultivators, processors, testing labs and existing dispensaries, sales of recreational marijuana can officially begin. The earliest this could occur is likely the end of 2024 or early 2025.

On-Site Consumption Lounges

The state will explore licensing for on-site cannabis consumption lounges in the future, but the law does not address them currently. It’s unlikely consumption lounges will be allowed until well into 2025 or beyond.

Home Cultivation

Adults 21+ will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants at home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. Home grow can begin once adult-use sales launch in licensed dispensaries.So in summary, while it may take over a year for licensed recreational sales to begin, Ohio is poised to build a successful adult-use cannabis industry that promotes social equity. It’s an exciting time for cannabis in Ohio! Stay tuned to the Ohio Marijuana Network for updates in this new era of legal weed.

Economic Implications of Legal Weed in Ohio

Economic Implications of Legal Weed in Ohio
Economic Implications of Legal Weed in Ohio

The passage of Ohio Issue 2 on November 7, 2023 marks a new chapter for cannabis policy and the economy in Ohio. Legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over will bring major changes and opportunities across multiple sectors. Here’s an overview of the key potential economic impacts:

Job Creation

  • Issue 2 allows for the licensing of new recreational cannabis cultivators, processors, testing labs and dispensaries. This will create many new jobs in the legal marijuana industry for Ohioans.
  • Positions will be needed up and down the supply chain – from cultivation, manufacturing and retail, to testing, marketing, finance and more.
  • Thousands of new jobs could be created in the first few years as the new adult-use industry launches. The number of jobs will grow over time as the market matures.

Tax Revenue

  • A 10% excise tax will be levied on adult-use cannabis sales at dispensaries, in addition to state and local sales tax.
  • Analysts project this could generate $350-500 million in new annual tax revenue for Ohio.
  • Taxes will help fund regulation, social equity programs, substance abuse treatment, and more. This new revenue can positively impact state budgets.

Industry Investment

  • Passage of Issue 2 gives the green light for major investment into the new adult-use cannabis industry in Ohio.
  • This includes investments in new cultivation sites, processing facilities, dispensaries, and more across the supply chain.
  • Real estate values could also rise for properties suitable for cannabis facilities.

Tourism

  • Legal recreational cannabis may attract more tourism to Ohio, especially from neighboring states without legal markets. This would boost hospitality sectors.
  • However, neighboring states like Michigan already have a head start in developing cannabis tourism.

Social Equity

  • The law’s social equity provisions aim to promote equitable opportunities in the cannabis industry for disadvantaged groups and communities.
  • This includes licensing priorities and assistance programs for people from areas disproportionately impacted by past cannabis enforcement.
  • Equity measures can help new small businesses and encourage economic growth in disadvantaged areas.

While there are still many unknowns, the overall economic outlook for legalized recreational marijuana in Ohio looks positive. As the first sales launch, the full impact will become clearer over the next few years.

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