New bill would allow recreational marijuana to be banned locally
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — A bill introduced this week in the Ohio Statehouse would change the state’s new recreational marijuana law, which voters approved in the November election and which takes effect next week.

Ohio House Bill 341, introduced Tuesday, Nov. 28, by state Rep. Gary Click of Vickery, R-88th, would allow local governments to ban the consumption of non-medical marijuana and home growing of cannabis. It would also divert some tax revenue from sales of the drug toward substance abuse and recovery efforts as well as police training.

Voters on Nov. 7 approved Issue 2 — a citizen-led statute to legalize recreational marijuana use by adults ages 21 and older — by a nearly 14% margin, according to unofficial election results. It’s set to take effect 30 days after the election, on Thursday, Dec. 7.

The statute allows local governments to pass ordinances prohibiting adult-use dispensaries from setting up shop. But it specifically prohibits local governments from outlawing recreational marijuana use or home growing.

Click’s amendment would remove those prohibitions, as well as prohibitions against townships and municipalities levying additional taxes or fees on adult-use cannabis operators and limiting academic research on marijuana.

Home growing

Local prohibitions on home growing are a sticking point for Kevin Greene, vice president of the Cleveland School of Cannabis.

“So this comes out really to an equity issue for me, right? At the end of the day, it’s about access and it’s about equitable access and home grow does that,” Greene told NewsNation affiliate WJW.

He said he thinks the strong voter support for Issue 2 seen in the November election means the statute should be left alone.

“Through our political system, the people were able to vote and showed what their choice was,” Greene said. “I don’t think it’s a good decision to make those amendments without the people’s voice, because the people’s voice is the reason why we are here today.”

Tax revenues

The amendment also changes the sales tax revenue allocations laid out by Issue 2:

  • Right now, the law puts 36% of the funds toward a cannabis social equity and jobs fund, which would give financial assistance to cannabis operators owned by minorities or who have previous marijuana convictions and encourage hiring minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities.
  • Another 36% is for municipalities and townships that have adult-use cannabis facilities, to be used as officials there see fit.
  • Another 25% supports opioid abuse education and research.

Click told WJW he feels the tax revenue allocations in Issue 2 were “a huge disservice.”

“They really gave the minimal amounts that they could to recovery, to educate and so forth. And I really felt like that needed to be upgraded,” he said.

If the amendment is approved, those allocations would each be reduced to 19.4%, to divert some of the revenues elsewhere.

More money would be directed to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to support addiction recovery work, including its 24/7, toll-free number to help addicted consumers. The amendment also creates a new fund to pay for police training.

The remaining 3% pays for administrative costs of the state’s newly formed Division of Cannabis Control and for levying the state’s new 10% sales tax on adult-use cannabis.

An August Ohio State University study estimated recreational marijuana’s annual tax revenue potential at between $276 million and $403 million, after the industry has been operating for five years.

The next steps

Gov. Mike DeWine has signaled favor for amending the adult-use cannabis law approved by voters. A statement from DeWine’s office reads, in part:

“Governor DeWine is working with the Ohio General Assembly to advance legislation that would better implement the legalization of recreational marijuana passed by voters in November. The Governor respects the decision by a majority of Ohio voters to allow for the legal sale of recreational marijuana and to reduce the black market of illicit marijuana sales.”

The bill has yet to receive a committee assignment. Click said the bill is expected to undergo several revisions while in committee.

“If there’s things in there that maybe not my intent or their intent, those things can be fixed along the way. We are not going to overrule the voice of the people, but we are going to treat this bill like any bill that I introduce or anyone else introduces along the way,” he said. “Let’s have some discussion and dialogue, but to fine tune it so that it serves the people of Ohio the best.”

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