Ohio became the 24th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Voters passed Issue 2, a resolution to allow adults over the age of 21 to use, purchase and possess marijuana, which appeared as a referendum on the ballot on Nov. 7. The policy will take effect in 30 days.
The measure passed with 57% support with more than 2.1 million people voting in favor of the new law.
“Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue,” said Tom Haren, the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told AP News. “Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide. Ohioans are being extremely clear on the future they want for our state: adult-use marijuana legal and regulated.”
In addition to Ohio’s 5.75% sales tax, the new law included a 10% tax on the sale of marijuana. Revenue from the tax will reportedly be used to cover any administrative costs as well as addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries, and job and social equity programs aimed at supporting the state’s cannabis industry. The tax is comparable to rates already in effect in Michigan and Illinois. Adults purchasing marijuana for medical use are not subject to the excise tax.
Some estimates predict the expansion of the state’s cannabis industry and the excise tax could generate $182 million to $218 million during the first full year and between $336 million to $403 million by the fifth operational year, per NBC4i.
Adults over the age of 21 can possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of weed and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrate. They may also grow up to six plants in their homes.
The ballot measure requires the state to create the Division of Cannabis Control within the state’s Department of Commerce. The division will oversee compliance within the industry and will investigate cannabis facilities and their operators who are believed to be in violation of any regulations.
“Opponents of the Ohio measure aired ads that said there would be nothing stopping marijuana sellers from marketing edibles to children as candy, featuring law enforcement officers decrying the proposed legalization,” reports NBC News.
Notably, Issue 2’s passage does not require the creation of a workplace accommodation requirement for marijuana users.
“An employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of adult use of cannabis,” the ballot measure states, per WKYC.
Issue 2 also does not mandate that the state expunge the criminal records of anyone convicted of low-level marijuana charges. Instead, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 288 in early January – which reduced the penalties for minor marijuana possession as well as underage drinking convictions.
The law ensures “that arrests or convictions for possessing marijuana paraphernalia won’t appear on Ohioans’ criminal records” and allows “prosecutors or city law directors to expunge thousands of low-level marijuana possession offenses,” per Cleveland.com.
Ohio legalized marijuana for medical use in 2016.