Two Ohio House Reps are filing a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis, marking the first time a proposal allowing recreational cannabis commerce has been introduced in the Ohio legislature.
Co-sponsors of the bill, Reps. Terrence Upchurch and Casey Weinstein, began circulating the draft memo to their colleagues on Thursday in order to garner support prior to formally filing the bill.
“Ohio can and should be the leader and pave the way for a successful recreational marijuana program,” Upchurch, who represents Northeast Ohio including Cleveland, told Benzinga. “We really need to get the rollout right.”
While the full details have not been released, Upchurch said components of the bill would allow adults 21 to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants.
Ohioans with nonviolent cannabis-related records crimes can have their records sealed and participate in the newly legal industry.
“The number of people who have been negatively affected by cannabis arrests in Ohio is astronomical. I’ve seen firsthand how the lives of good people have been upended for years because of pot convictions,” Upchurch said.
Casey Weinstein, a U.S. Air Force veteran who represents Ohio’s Dayton area, said the time has come for Ohio.
“Quite simply we have reached critical mass,” Weinstein told Benzinga. “Between Ohio’s successful medical marijuana program, other states moving forward, and broad, bipartisan support for the many benefits to reform, it’s time to legalize.”
Many presume Republican Gov. Mike DeWine will oppose the bill as would the GOP-dominated Legislature, though both Upchurch and Weinstein say there are legislators on both sides of the aisle who support legalization.
Critical Mass? It Looks That Way
First of all, the majority of Ohio voters have almost consistently supported reform through numerous local initiatives. At the moment, nearly two dozen Ohio jurisdictions have adopted statutes drastically reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of weed, according to the Ohio Sensible Movement Coalition.
In Cincinnati, where cannabis was decriminalized in 2019, Mayor John Cranley tweeted Thursday afternoon: “It’s time we legalize marijuana in Ohio.”
If we legalized marijuana we could invest that tax revenue right back into our communities. We could rebuild our roads and fund public education. We could expand healthcare for our communities.
It’s time we legalize marijuana in Ohio.
— John Cranley (@JohnCranley) July 15, 2021
Dayton’s Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat who is running for Ohio governor, echoed that sentiment in a statement Thursday.
“This is a commonsense change that is both an important criminal justice reform issue, as well as a sensible way for Ohio to bring in more revenue for basic services that communities across our state need.”
Medical Cannabis Patients Increasing – Cannabis Companies Prepare For More
Ohio has close to 100,000 medical marijuana patients, prompting the state to more than double the number of cannabis dispensaries for the coming year.
Cannabis companies now operating in Ohio, include Jushi Holdings Inc (OTC: JUSHF), Ayr Wellness Inc (OTC: AYRWF), Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTC: GTBIF) and Body and Mind Inc. (OTC: BMMJ), among others. More are expected to make their way to the Buckeye State.