Legal Recreational Cannabis in Ohio Becomes Entangled

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Recreational cannabis is legal in some capacities, but Ohioans cannot yet buy it.

In November 2023, voters in Ohio approved Issue 2 with a 57% majority, making the possession and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes legal in the state starting in December (1,2). Soon after the voter-initiated measure passed, the Senate approved HB 86 with a bipartisan vote, which proposed several changes to the law (1). The major changes included: for adults ages 21 and older, the number of plants grown at home per household would change from 12 to six, the tax for each cannabis product transaction would change from 10% to 15%, and dispensary sales could begin immediately rather than within nine months (1). Also added was an automatic expungement of convictions for possession of 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis and changing the maximum tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels from 90% to 50% for extracts (1).

“We felt it was important to allow for immediate use because that’s a protection against the black market,” Senator Rob McColley said (1). “It’s frankly also a way to help Ohioans who voted for this allow to have safe, reliable access earlier than later.” The governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, also shared the concern for the possible proliferation of unsafe products in an unregulated market (3).


The House adjourned in December without addressing the bill, which raised concerns over the status of cannabis over the next year (4). According to House Speaker Jason Stephens, the three main points to address in the proposed bill concern where cannabis can be used, licenses, and revenue distribution (4). “When you think about all three of those components, to do those quickly but also respecting what the will of the voter is, it’s not something that can be done very quickly in my opinion, but to be done correctly,” Stephens said (4).

Both the House and Senate will begin to hold meetings again in January 2024 (4).


  1. Henry, M. Ohio Senate votes to approve changes to the marijuana law. DeWine urges Bill’s passage (accessed Dec 22, 2023).
  2. Gov. DeWine talks transgender Bill, marijuana legalization in year-End reflection (accessed Dec 22, 2023).
  3. Hendrickson, S. Adults can now legally possess and grow marijuana in Ohio - but there’s nowhere to buy it (accessed Dec 22, 2023).
  4. Henry, M. Future of marijuana legislation uncertain as both Ohio House and Senate won’t reconvene until 2024 (accessed Dec 22, 2023).