Ohio Speaker of the House Says Any Marijuana Law Changes Won’t Happen This Year

The leader of the Ohio House of Representatives says that any changes to the voter-approved law that legalized marijuana won’t come until next year.

Last week Ohio’s full Senate voted 28 to 2 to pass legislation that would make multiple changes to Issue 2, a law legalizing recreational marijuana that was passed by voters in last month’s election. The Senate approved the bill one day before the provisions of the law allowing marijuana possession and cultivation took effect, with proponents hoping the House would promptly take up the issue. Now, it appears clear that the House will not act on any marijuana bill this year, with the legislative session nearly over.

“I don’t think there will be anything about marijuana on the floor”, Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) told reporters Tuesday morning. “I think we’ll continue the discussion”. 

The Senate-approved bill would allow those 21 and older to begin purchasing marijuana from medical marijuana dispensaries even if they are not medical marijuana patients, within 90 days of the bill’s passage (recreational marijuana retail outlets aren’t expected to open until late 2024 or early 2025). The proposal would also reduce the household limit for marijuana plants from 12 to 6, it would allow for the automatic expungement of past marijuana convictions, and it would increase the marijuana tax rate from 10% to 15% while allowing localities to institute a city tax of up to 3%.

“We can’t let the urgent get in the way of the important,” said Stephens. “It’s just such a big change in Ohio’s law that we need to be deliberate and we need to respect that there are concerns from the administration and the Senate and we respect those concerns.”

Stephens notes that “Most of the provisions of Issue 2 don’t come into effect until the summer, so that’s really why you don’t see that sense of urgency.”

Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D) said “I would be surprised if anything comes out this week, but we still have an eternity in legislative time”.

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