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Representatives Callender and Weinstein introduce HB168, the Ohio Adult Use Act

Bipartisan legislation continuing the effort began in the 134th General Assembly to legalize adult-use cannabis
May 22, 2023
Jamie Callender News

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COLUMBUS—State Representatives Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) introduced bipartisan legislation this month that would legalize adult-use cannabis in Ohio. HB 168 continues the work that began with HB 498 (Callender/Ferguson) and HB 382 (Weinstein/Upchurch) during the 134th General Assembly, where both bills were assigned to the House Finance Committee but never received a vote. 

This legislation, titled the Ohio Adult Use Act, would allow for the cultivation, purchase, and possession of cannabis by Ohioans over the age of 21 and allows for the expungement of conviction records for previous cultivation and possession offenses. The bill would implement a 10% sales tax on adult-use cannabis products. Tax revenue would be distributed in part to supporting primary and secondary (K-12) education, communities that host dispensaries, combatting chemical dependence and illegal drug trafficking, and the state General Revenue Fund. 

“It’s time for Ohio to act on this before we fall too much further behind our neighbors,” said Rep Weinstein. “Adult-use is good for our economy, good for our justice system, and the right thing to do. Ohioans are ready to legalize cannabis, and I am proud to offer this bipartisan bill to get it done.”

Under the bill, Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program would be extended to also regulate the non-medical cultivation, processing, sale, and adult-use of cannabis products. It would be renamed the Division of Marijuana Control to reflect its role in running both the medical marijuana and adult-use programs and be housed within the Department of Commerce. 

“Through the expansion of Ohio’s successful Medical Marijuana program to all Ohioans, we will not only be building upon best practices from around the country but utilizing the lessons learned here in Ohio,” said Callender. “With the nation increasingly heading towards the de-scheduling of cannabis products at the federal level, Ohio has an opportunity to get ahead of the curve in developing its cannabis industry.” 

As of this spring, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use marijuana, and 38 states allow for medical use of cannabis. Action is also being taken at the Federal level to de-schedule cannabis.

The bill now awaits assignment to a committee and sponsor testimony.