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Ohio just voted to legalize cannabis. Here’s what happens next

Published on November 7, 2023

Ohio voters have officially legalized recreational cannabis via Issue 2. The ballot initiative passed this evening, November 7.

The state’s vote to legalize cannabis follows several reforms. Ohio lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Additionally, 38 Ohio cities have already decriminalized the possession of up to 7 ounces of cannabis. 

In 2015, Ohioans failed to pass a separate legalization initiative, by a vote of nearly two to one.

Read on to learn how legalization in Ohio could unfold. We encourage readers to consider that the state’s legislature reserves the right to modify (or even repeal) the measure; any and all of these provisions could easily change.

The law will “become effective” 30 days after passage. That date will likely apply to possession, but the ballot measure does not specify when adult-use sales will begin.

How much marijuana can I possess in Ohio?

Issue 2 allows adults 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of cannabis concentrate.

Can I smoke a joint in public?


Can I grow cannabis at home?

Yes. An individual can grow up to six plants at home, with a maximum of twelve plants per household.

The state will create a new Division of Cannabis Control within the Ohio Department of Commerce to oversee the nascent industry.

How many weed stores will be allowed?

The state’s 130-odd existing medical marijuana dispensaries will have a green light to sell to recreational customers. Furthermore, the state will license 40 new cultivators and 50 new retailers. The Division of Cannabis Control can issue more licenses two years after they approve this first batch.

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Will Ohio offer any equity or small-business licenses?

Yes. The ballot measure dictates that the state will issue new licenses “with a preference to applications who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.” But the language in the ballot measure does not specify how many.

Can local towns or counties ban stores?

Towns and counties can ban new stores, but cannot stop existing medical dispensaries from selling to adult-use customers. Towns and counties furthermore cannot impose local taxes on cannabis.

Will Ohio tax marijuana?

Yes. Ohio will add a 10% excise tax to cannabis sales. The state’s 5.75% sales tax, as well as local taxes up to 2.25%, would also apply to cannabis purchases. Ohio would direct 36% of the revenue towards a marijuana social equity and jobs fund.

What about the expungement process?

The measure does not include specific language around automatic expungement, but does require the state to use some cannabis tax revenue to fund reform efforts including expungement.

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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