Ohio: Lawmakers, Prohibitionist Groups Call for Legislative Reforms To Voter-Approved Marijuana Legalization Law

Columbus, OH: Prohibitionist groups, along with some of the state’s top lawmakers, have publicly called for legislative changes to the state’s voter-approved marijuana legalization law.

Fifty-seven percent of voters approved Issue 2 on Election Day, which legalizes the possession, home cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis. In the days prior, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine urged voters to decide against the initiative. Members of the GOP-led Senate also passed a resolution condemning the measure – claiming that it would bring “unacceptable threats and risks to the health of all Ohioans, especially children.”

In the days following the vote, Senate President Matt Huffman stated, “The General Assembly may consider amending the statute.” The governor has also called for legislative changes to the law before its enactment date, December 7, 2023. Because the proposed measure was put before voters as a statutory question rather than a constitutional amendment, state lawmakers can amend or repeal its provisions.

Prohibitionist groups are also lobbying lawmakers to revisit the new law. In a press release, Smart Approaches to Marijuana called upon lawmakers to “eliminate the provisions allowing for commercial sales [of marijuana], advertising, and production.” The local coalition Protect Ohio Workers & Families called for an “outright repeal” of the law.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano responded: “Cannabis legalization is an issue that unites Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. 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 electorate.”

In an op-ed published in The Hill, he added: “In a healthy and functioning democracy, elected officials represent the electorate’s views. But when it comes to cannabis law reform, Republican lawmakers all too often ignore or seek to undermine their voters.”

Republican lawmakers have previously resisted election outcomes in other states. In 2020, 54 percent of South Dakotans voted in favor of a constitutional amendment legalizing the adult-use cannabis market. Weeks later, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem spearheaded litigation challenging the vote. That litigation ultimately nullified the election’s outcome.

A summary of Ohio’s legalization law is available from NORML.