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Ohio GOP Leaders Want to Restrict Weed Legalization Reforms

Morgan Fox, a native Ohioan who advocates against marijuana prohibition, feels voters spoke loudly in Tuesday’s election when, by a nearly 14-percentage-point margin, they approved Issue 2 to legalize and establish regulation of recreational cannabis possession, sales, cultivation, and manufacturing by people 21 and older, Bolt reports. “It’s been clear for more than a decade that Ohioans have wanted to regulate cannabis for adults,” Fox, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said. “This should be a wake-up call.” Issue 2 is set to go into effect Dec. 7, with the first round of new business licenses to be announced by September. But the law changes state statute, not the state constitution, so its approval at the ballot is essentially tantamount to Ohio voters passing a new piece of legislation, just like Ohio lawmakers do. This means that those lawmakers can change the law without voter consent.

Gov. Mike DeWine and his fellow Republicans had signaled their intent to make the law more restrictive if it passed. Now that it has, they’ve indicated they could make some changes as soon as in the next few weeks, ahead of the Dec. 7 effective date. GOP leaders of both Ohio legislative chambers have already confirmed they’ll consider reversing aspects of Issue 2 that sought to unwind drug-war policies, which have produced vastly disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against Black people in the state. Senate President Matt Huffman has said that he takes issue with the amount of tax revenue that will be dedicated to promoting cannabis business opportunities for those most personally affected by prohibition. As it stands, Issue 2 calls for a 10% tax on marijuana sales, with the proceeds to go toward a program meant to provide financial assistance and license application support to prospective cannabis business owners. Instead, some Republican leaders have signaled they want the tax money to serve very different purposes such as jail construction and law enforcement training.


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