Lawmaker wants some of Ohio’s Issue 2 marijuana revenue put toward police training

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The two-year state budget included $80 million to fund local police training, but when that runs out, Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) wants to permanently finance it by earmarking potential revenue from Ohio’s soon-to-be recreational marijuana program. Just under 57% of voters approved Issue 2 to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Rep. Cindy Abrams proposes diverting some marijuana tax revenue toward police training during a press conference in November 2023.
Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) proposes diverting some marijuana tax revenue toward police training during a press conference in November 2023. [Sarah Donaldson | Statehouse News Bureau]
Although the process to get a license and begin legally selling marijuana for adult non-medical use in Ohio will take months, some Issue 2 provisions go into effect in about three weeks, on Dec. 7. Lawmakers have said they are early in the process of making modifications to that initiated statute—floating everything from limiting the potency of products to regulations on packaging and advertising.

Of those potential changes, both the tax rates on sale and the revenue allocations may be modified. House Bill 326, introduced by Abrams during a Tuesday morning press conference in the Ohio Statehouse Ladies’ Gallery, would change where a chunk of the revenue goes.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen with all the other percentages,” Abrams said. “I’m focusing on getting $40 million a year right from the top for law enforcement training.”

It would extend the $80 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget—divided equally between the two years—that reimburses continued professional training for police officers statewide. She believes law enforcement agencies are well-deserving of the extra funds, particularly as the state prepares for legalization.

“Our first responders are going to be the ones who ultimately respond, sadly, to the fatal car crash or the auto accident with injuries or any plethora of 911 calls that are going to come in,” Abrams said. “Again, I believe that training saves lives. Training, good training—I don’t care what you do for a living—when you’re well-trained, it’s a better outcome.”

But House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said the Democratic caucus wants to make sure localities have discretion over the money that eventually comes from the program. “That they have some flexibility, that we are not overly prescriptive,” she said.

Under the initiated statute voters ratified, recreational marijuana tax revenue is broken down into buckets—with 36% going to local governments. That could include their law enforcement, although it is not directly defined in the statute’s text.