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Lawmakers still plan changes before Ohio's recreational marijuana law takes effect

Marijuana plants
Jim Mone
/
AP

The state’s new recreational marijuana passed by nearly 57% of Ohio voters takes effect next Thursday. Republican lawmakers have said they want to tweak the law before that. With the clock ticking, it’s likely some changes will come out Friday or Monday.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is asking lawmakers to ban all marijuana use in public places, indoor and outdoor. lt also wants to strengthen employer protection laws and split the revenue equally among the state, local governments and the private non-profit organization handling much of the state’s settlement over the opioid crisis.

Issue 2 assigned 72% of the revenue to a social equity and jobs program fund and communities with dispensaries, with the rest going to addiction treatment and administrative costs.

While a spokesman for the Ohio Senate said there are no plans for repealing the law, he said, “clearly much of the language in Issue 2 raises serious problems from the THC levels to tax policy, to indoor smoking laws. It was written as a sweetheart deal for the industry, and changes need to be made."

Though Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) had said his chamber would lead the way on changes to Issue 2, no Senate bills have come forward. But House Republicans have introduced two bills so far.

House Bill 326 from Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) would put some pot revenue toward police training in response to Republican concerns that law enforcement and first responders are going to have to handle crimes committed by marijuana abuse, such as car crashes.

House Bill 341 from Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) would allow municipalities to ban marijuana. That's a departure from recent Republican efforts to ban local communities from banning flavored vapes and plastic bags.

While the relaxation of marijuana laws has typically been supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, it hasn't been exclusively a party-line issue.

Republicans in the House and Senate have proposed expanding medical marijuana to conditions not currently covered. And two House Republicans teamed up to sponsor a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in 2021.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.