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Business & Economy

On first day of legal marijuana in Ohio, some businesses are embracing new legal status

A collection of marijuana paraphernalia sits on a table at Goremade Pizza in Italian Village in Columbus, Ohio.
George Shillcock
Goremade Pizza in Italian Village is welcoming customers to spoke weed on their pizza patio now that recreational marijuana is legal. The pizza parlor also set up a "weed altar" in their window with smoking paraphernalia to celebrate.

Several businesses in central Ohio are beginning to welcome customers who wish to smoke marijuana on their outdoor patios on the first day of legalized recreational weed in the state.

The Short North already has a bar called Half-Baked Brew that opens at 4:20 p.m. daily and a smoke shop just up the road called "The Joint." Both businesses make reference to common slang used by people who use marijuana. Goremade Pizza on 4th Street in nearby Italian Village and its founder Nick Gore are joining the circle of weed-friendly businesses by advertising its pizza patio as "pot-friendly."

Gore set up what he calls a "marijuana altar" in the business' window in celebration of weed being legalized in Ohio. The display includes various marijuana paraphernalia like a bong, a pipe and a lighter.

Gore spoke to WOSU Thursday as he was making pizza during the lunch rush and flipping dough into the air. He said more businesses in Columbus may also be open to letting customers smoke on their patios now that weed is legal, but he can't say for sure how soon that might materialize.

"I think it's just wait and see what happens first. And then if it's safe for one person, then it could be safe for others. But I have no idea. I'm just living from my heart space and doing what I think is right," Gore said.

Goremade Pizza isn't the only business in central Ohio that plans to embrace the new law change. Walking Distance Brewing Company in Marysville announced on Facebook it would open its patio to people who want to smoke marijuana.

Half-Baked Brew on North High Street said on its Instagram story it would be giving away free cannabis seeds from Fully Baked Farms this Saturday.

While Ohioans are unable to purchase recreational marijuana anywhere in Ohio legally as of Thursday, it is legal to use and possess a certain amount and grow the plant at home.

The Ohio Legislature is still mulling over changes it might make to what over 57% of Ohioans voted to pass an amendment in November in what was called "Issue 2." Lawmakers and Gov. Mike DeWine have floated changes that would ban smoking in public places, limit the amount of plants people can grow at home and lower limits to THC in both the plant and in extracts.

Gore said he is inviting people to his business Saturday to smoke on the patio, eat pizza and hold a discussion about the new changes to state law and any new changes the state government might make. He is calling the event "Fire it up Friday" and will be screening the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness."

Gore said he isn't worried about what changes the Ohio Legislature may make to what voters passed in Issue 2. For now, he said he just wants to show up, exist in this moment and not give power to those who want to further restrict marijuana usage.

"We did want (Issue 2) to happen, the majority-wise, but we did not want to fall victim to a shady deal. And I really appreciated that. That was my favorite part of it. Okay, finally, there's something to say yes to. And we showed up to do that," Gore said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.