Ohio Committee Votes to Gut Marijuana Legalization Law Including Removing Home Grows and Reducing Possession Limits

Just three days before Issue 2 is set to take effect, a Senate committee has voted to make drastic changes to the new law.

The Senate General Government Committee voted 4 to 1 today to include a set of marijuana provisions in an unrelated alcohol measure. Senate President Matt Huffman says he plans to put the measure to a vote of the full Senate as soon as Wednesday. If it passes the Senate, and then the House of Representatives, it will be sent to Governor Mike DeWine for consideration.

Under Issue 2, approved by voters last month, the personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at a private residence is allowed for those 21 and older, as is the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. The law mandates that the Division of Cannabis Control, a newly established branch of the Department of Commerce, issue marijuana business licenses within nine months.

The changes approved by committee today would completely eliminate the option for personal home grows. It would also reduce the possession limit from 2.5 ounces to one ounce, and it would reduce the cap on THC to 25% for flower and 50% for concentrates (the limit set in Issue 2 is 35% and 90%).

The provisions would make several other changes against the spirit of Issue 2 (the governor recently promised any changes to Issue 2 would be in the “spirit” of the law), including establishing criminal penalties for publicly consuming marijuana, reducing the cap on marijuana dispensaries, allowing cities to ban marijuana businesses and redistributing marijuana tax revenue.

“[F]rom my mind, the voters’ intent is nowhere to be found in this—what I call a shell of what the voters passed”, said Senator William DeMora (D). “[M]ore than half the people that voted for this voted because of home growth, and so taking that away from what the voters clearly wanted is something that I have huge problem with.”

Tom Haren, a spokesperson for Issue 2, said:

“Almost two years after first receiving Issue 2’s language and after Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed it, some in the Ohio Senate propose to gut Issue 2’s most important provisions, including home grow and social equity, and to put in place higher taxes that will entrench the illicit market and force Ohioans to continue to buy their cannabis products in Michigan. This is not what voters wanted.”

He continued:

“What’s more, they will apparently attempt to declare an ‘emergency’ and to pass this bill (crafted behind closed doors) in a rushed process designed to prevent meaningful input—all to subvert the will of Ohio voters,. But let’s be clear: the democratic process is not an emergency. Members of the Ohio Senate should shelve this proposal and instead implement the results of a free and fair election in accordance with their duties as public servants. Voters deserve to have the core components of Issue 2 respected by their elected officials with any changes being made only after robust opportunity for debate and participation by the general public.”

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