Ohio Passed Issue 2. Now What?
On November 7, 2023, a ballot initiative to commercialize, regulate, legalize, and tax the adult recreational use of cannabis was passed. So what comes next for the Buckeye state?
Among many other sweeping changes, a new agency office will be created within the Ohio Department of Commerce, called the “Division of Cannabis Control.” This new division will have the authority to license, regulate, investigate, and penalize "adult use cannabis operators," which is defined under the full text of Issue 2 as "a level I adult use cultivator, a level II adult use cultivator, a level III adult use cultivator, an adult use processor, and an adult use dispensary."
This new Division of Cannabis Control would also establish standards and requirements for those who obtain adult use licenses. These requirements include product labeling, product tracking, product testing, advertising, facility security, and inventory control. In addition to product requirements, there will be a sales tax of 10% on all marijuana sales, in addition to the existing applicable sales tax.
Additionally, the new division will be tasked with regulating what products are sold and the levels of THC in each product. The division will also have the power to inspect licensed adult use facilities without prior notice and review all records kept by the license operators. Failure to comply with regulations and requirements by the Division of Cannabis Control can result in fines, suspensions, or revocation of the licenses. In addition, any individual who is found operating as a marijuana adult use operator or marijuana testing laboratory without a license can be subject to criminal penalties.
Local municipal corporations and townships will have some say in the matter, including passing ordinances or resolutions to prohibit or limit the number of adult use cannabis operators within a particular jurisdiction. However, in some cases, a permit holder could petition to override the local prohibition.
While Issue 2 passed on November 7th, the law will not become effective until 30 days after the election, and even then, it will almost certainly take a significant amount of time before policies and procedures are in place to implement many of the major changes.