GOP Looks To Make Big Changes To Cannabis Laws

Senate Republicans in Ohio are proposing to make widespread changes to the state’s cannabis laws, which voters just approved in November.

On Monday, Republicans in the Ohio Senate proposed making changes to the marijuana legislation bill that voters approved. Among those changes are banning people from growing marijuana at their home, increasing the tax rate on marijuana and also changing how the taxes are then distributed.

The law was set to take effect in just a few days, yet those proposal changes still emerged out of a Senate committee. It’s unclear at this point what the future of those proposals would be, though, as they would need to go before the full state Senate and state House.

During the November election, Ohio voters passed Issue 2, with 57% of people approving it. It was set to go into effect on Thursday of this week. When it does, Ohio will become the 24th U.S. state that legalizes marijuana for recreational use among adults.

Since the measure was initiated by citizens, though, the state Legislature can still make some changes to the law. The proposals were made during a recent meeting of the General Government Committee in the Senate.

At that meeting, Republican state Senator Michael Rulli said:

“The goal of this committee is to provide the people’s wishes with a safe product.”

Yet, not everyone is on board with the fact that state Republicans are trying to make changes. A spokesperson for the organization Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Tom Haren, said recently:
“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.”

Before the proposals can actually become part of the new bill, though, there are a lot of hurdles they have to go through. First, it has to clear the floor of the Ohio Senate.

Then, it would make its way over to the state House, which is led by Republicans. That chamber has signaled in the past that it’s more favorable to recreational marijuana usage in the state than the Senate is.

Finally, the state’s governor, Republican Mike DeWine, must sign off on the changes. He also has signaled in the past that he supports the basics of the bill that voters approved at the polls.
Under the provisions that voters approved, people in Ohio would be able to grow their own marijuana at their homes. There would be a limit of growing six plants per person, and as many as 12 for each household.

The Senate is looking to do away with that provision entirely.

If the Senate’s proposal goes through, the tax on all marijuana products would also increase from 10% up to 15%.

All tax revenue also would go toward general funding for the state, as well as for programs such as safe driving, substance abuse prevention and treatment and law enforcement training.