Ohio Votes to Become 24th State to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

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On November 7, 2023, Ohio made history by voting to become the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis.

On Election Day, it wasn’t only politicians making history. Ohio voters showed up and voted to legalize recreational cannabis. This makes the “Buckeye State” the 24th state to end prohibition (1).

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA), which is an organization that works toward creating regulatory framework to allow adults 21 and older to possess, cultivate, and purchase cannabis, campaigned to support the measure in Ohio. Recently, there has been an increasing amount of interest to legalize cannabis. This information is backed by recent surveys and it appears opposition from the governor and GOP state lawmakers hasn’t discouraged voters.

“Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue,” Tom Haren, spokesperson for the campaign, reported to Marijuana Moment (1). “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.”


The summary language for the measure disclosed that it will legalize and regulate (1), “the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home grow, and use of cannabis by adults at least twenty-one years of age.”

“A broad, bipartisan and diverse array of Ohioans spoke clearly tonight,” Ohio Representative Casey Weinstein (D), who has supported the legalization of cannabis, told Marijuana Moment (1). “The time to legalize marijuana has come. I hope the leaders in the legislature will heed their call and honor the will of the vote.”

Citizens of Ohio will now be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and have the option to cultivate up to six plants. If more adults reside in the same household, the amount of plants able to cultivate increases to 12 plants. The new legislation will officially go into effect on December 7, 2023. In the meantime, state officials will be working on getting the regulation framework set up so that licensed retailers can be approved.

According to Marijuana Moment, the key provisions of the Ohio legalization ballot measure are (1,2):

  • The initiative would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates.
  • Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum 12 plants per household.
  • A 10 percent sales tax would be imposed on cannabis sales, with revenue being divided up to support social equity and jobs programs (36 percent), localities that allow adult-use marijuana enterprises to operate in their area (36 percent), education and substance misuse programs (25 percent) and administrative costs of implementing the system (three percent).
  • A Division of Cannabis Control would be established under the state Department of Commerce. It would have authority to “license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed.”
  • The measure gives current medical cannabis businesses a head start in the recreational market. Regulators would need to begin issuing adult-use licenses to qualified applicants who operate existing medical operations within nine months of enactment.
  • The division would also be required to issue 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 adult-use retailer licenses “with a preference to applications who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.” And it would authorize regulators to issue additional licenses for the recreational market two years after the first operator is approved.
  • Individual municipalities would be able to opt out of allowing new recreational cannabis companies from opening in their area, but they could not block existing medical marijuana firms even if they want to add co-located adult-use operations. Employers could also maintain policies prohibiting workers from consuming cannabis for adult use.
  • Further, regulators would be required to “enter into an agreement with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services” to provide “cannabis addiction services,” which would involve “education and treatment for individuals with addiction issues related to cannabis or other controlled substances including opioids.”
  • With respect to social equity, some advocates are concerned about the lack of specific language on automatic expungements to clear the records of people with convictions for offenses that would be made legal under the legislation. That said, the measure does include a provision requiring regulators to “study and fund” criminal justice reform initiatives including expungements.

“Cannabis legalization is an issue that unites Democrats, Republicans and Independents,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano mentioned (1). “Ohioans have seen similar legalization laws adopted in neighboring states and they know that regulating the cannabis market is preferable to the failed policy of prohibition. It is imperative that elected officials respect the voters’ decision and implement this measure in a manner that is consistent with the sentiments of the majority of the electorate.”

Matthew Schweich, interim executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) told Marijuana Moment that Tuesday’s vote “shows that a cannabis legalization campaign can win anytime and anywhere,” (1).

“More importantly, the people of Ohio will benefit greatly from a cannabis policy based on common sense and fairness,” Schweich added (1). “The plague of cannabis prohibition has finally been lifted from the Buckeye State.”


  1. Jaeger, K. Ohio Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative, Making It The 24th State to End Prohibition (accessed Nov 8, 2023).
  2. Initiative text (accessed Nov 8, 2023).