Ohio Republicans have begun to propose legislative changes to the recently passed Issue 2, the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Initiative), passed by over 57% of Ohioans in November. House Bill No. 341 (the Bill) was introduced on November 28 by Representative Gary Click (R) and does not currently have any co-sponsors. The rationale given by Representative Click for introducing the Bill was that voters did not fully grasp or agree to the specific provisions of Issue 2. The Bill, he said, is meant to be a “discussion starter rather than the binary choice that was on the ballot.”
If enacted, the Bill would, among other things, change where adult-use tax revenue would be allocated and provide for significantly more local government control over adult-use marijuana. The Bill is likely separate from proposed legislation being discussed among Senate President Matt Huffman (R), House Speaker Jason Stephens (R), and Governor Mike DeWine.
One of the main changes proposed by the Bill relates to the distribution of tax revenue from adult-use sales. As passed, the Initiative allocates nearly all tax revenue to a Social Equity and Jobs Fund, Host Community Cannabis Fund, and for substance abuse and addiction. The Bill would allocate nearly 20% of tax revenue to a Law Enforcement Cannabis Training Fund. This particular fund would allow the Ohio attorney general to award grants to law enforcement agencies to support training efforts and pay for administrative expenses related to Ohio marijuana offenses. According to Representative Click, this change is needed because: “[w]e know with more drug use, there’s going to be more need for policing around that. And so, we want to create some funds to train law enforcement on how to deal with that, how to respond to those situations.”
More Local Government Control
The Bill also removes the Initiative’s specific prohibitions on the ability of cities and townships to:
- limit marijuana-related research conducted at state universities, academic medical centers, or private research and development organizations as part of a research protocol approved by an institutional review board or its equivalent;
- prohibit levying any tax, fee, or charge on adult-use marijuana operators, their owners, or their property not generally charged on other businesses in the city or township;
- prohibit or limit home grown marijuana otherwise authorized under the Initiative; or
- prohibit or restrict an activity authorized by the Initiative.
We’ll continue to monitor this proposed Ohio marijuana legislation. Stay tuned for updates.