States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: September 20, 2023
Adult-use legalization officially certified for the November ballot
After a nearly two-year process of gathering signatures and legislative negotiations, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, has succeeded in officially qualifying its adult-use legalization initiative for the November 2023 ballot. If voters approve the measure, known as Issue 2, Ohio will become the 24th state to end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition.
The ballot initiative permits adults to possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis, including up to 15 grams of concentrate, and cultivate up to six cannabis plants in their home. It also establishes a comprehensive regulatory system with licensed growers and retail stores where adults can purchase cannabis products. Cannabis sold will be subject to a 10% sales tax in addition to normal sales taxes, and revenue will be invested into jobs programs, local communities, and treatment services for substance use disorders. Read MPP’s summary of the measure or the full text of the initiative.
Recent polling bodes well for the measure. A pair of recent opinion surveys (here and here) each found that 59% of Ohio voters support legalization. But passage is not guaranteed. Groups like the Ohio Association of Health Commissioners – representing Ohio’s 112 local health departments – have spoken out in opposition to the measure, and Gov. Mike DeWine remarked recently that, “it would be a real mistake for us to have recreational marijuana.”
After MPP and other advocates in the state mobilized behind a ballot referendum, state lawmakers passed a law to establish a medical cannabis program for Ohioans in 2016. As of May 2022, the program benefits nearly 300,000 registered patients throughout the state. For more information on Ohio’s medical marijuana program and access to patient forms and other resources, visit Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website. And, for an overview of the current medical marijuana law, see our summary.
For individuals who are not registered as a medical marijuana patients, possession of less than 100 grams (or about 3.5 ounces), giving 20 grams or less of marijuana to another person, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are each considered “minor misdemeanors,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150. A minor misdemeanor is not a “jailable” offense, but a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from six months to five years.
In recent years, efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession at the local level in cities around Ohio have been met with success. During the 2020 Election, voters in four more Ohio cities approved cannabis decriminalization measures, joining 18 other municipalities in the state that have enacted similar initiatives. More and more Ohioans are ready for change and believe that marijuana should be legal for adults. They see that marijuana prohibition has failed and only undermines public health and safety. It’s time for Ohio to move forward, stop arresting people for marijuana, and adopt a sensible system of legalization.
Yesterday, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced that they have submitted 206,943 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State — over 70,000 more than needed to meet the requirement for the first phase of the ballot initiative qualification process.