Experts discuss what recreational marijuana will mean for Ohio at Akron Roundtable
With adult use recreational marijuana becoming legal in Ohio this Thursday, industry experts are weighing in on what this change could mean for the state.
Ohio voters passed Issue 2 by 57% in November, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The citizen initiated statute includes cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession and home growth of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, according to the ballot language.
Although the ballot initiative becomes law this Thursday, sales won’t begin until next fall, while the state creates and implements regulations for the industry, Geoff Korff, founder and CEO of Galenas, a medical marijuana cultivator, said.
“What will happen on the 7th is adult use cannabis for anybody over the age of 21 will technically be legal," he explained, "so there won’t be any arrests happening from that day forward.”
The license approval process will be lengthy and competitive, Korff said.
"They'll be finalized by virtue of the statute, if the statute stays the same, in, I think it's September of next year," he explained, "and then we would expect sales to actually start commercially sometime in October."
Although marijuana will be legal for those 21 and older, Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield warned employers can still bar employees from consuming marijuana.
“I do think employers are going to have to consider that when they’re trying to attract and retain talent for their organization," she said. "Are they going to restrict this, and how is that going to impact their workforce?”
Some parents are expressing concerns that legalization will make marijuana more accessible to children.
The state will regulate how marijuana is marketed and packaged, to ensure the drug isn’t targeted at kids, Korff explained.
“Markets like California, we’ll use as an example, where folks have seen some pictures of boxes that do in fact look like candy boxes, it’s highly unlikely that we see anything like that show up in Ohio," he said.
Most marijuana businesses agree with parents and don’t want to sell or market weed to people who are under the age of 21, Korff said.
Since it was a ballot initiative, state legislators can tweak the law before and after it goes into effect.
Korff and Oldfield were joined by County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Doug Smith and Brennan Manna Diamond attorney Victoria L. Ferrise in an Akron Roundtable panel moderated by Ideastream Public Media's Deputy Director of News Andrew Meyer. Akron Roundtable promotes community dialogue and networking by presenting speakers and community forums, according to its website.