Democrats Sponsor Bill To Legalize, Regulate And Tax Marijuana In Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Two Democrats are introducing a bill in the Ohio House that would legalize marijuana for personal use beyond the medical use already allowed in law now. It’s the first bill that would set up a structure for the state to regulate and tax it.

A leaf from a cannabis plant
Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said his bill with fellow Democratic Rep. Terrance Upchurch (D-Cleveland) would allow people over 21 to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants.

People with past pot convictions would have those records sealed and would be allowed to participate in the marijuana industry.

Though previous proposals to legalize pot haven’t moved before, Weinstein is confident.

“There are definitely legislators on both sides of the aisle who support legalization. I will not out them,” Weinstein said with a laugh. “But I have had that many conversations and have heard about quite a bit of support in the Senate, in the House – from both parties on the concept.”

Taxes on marijuana would go to cities, primary and secondary education, and to fix and maintain schools and infrastructure.

Upchurch has also sponsored a bill with Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati) that would legalize marijuana and expunge prior marijuana convictions. It was introduced in March and hasn’t had a hearing. They introduced that bill last session as well. It never got a hearing.

The bill would leave the state’s existing medical marijuana program, authorized in 2016, in place. That highly regulated program oversees 24 cultivators, 57 dispensaries, 48 processors, 679 doctors and 176,387 registered patients who received recommendations for marijuana to deal with 25 medical conditions.

Critics of Ohio’s medical marijuana program say it’s been slow to roll out and fraught with problems, the system is expensive and hard to navigate, and the restrictions in it have led to a low participation rate.