Voters in Ohio have overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana use, possession and sales to adults 21 and over. Votes for the ballot initiative, called Issue 2, were outpacing votes against by 57-43 percent as of this morning, with less than two percent of ballots left to count.
The ballot measure was opposed by Governor Mike DeWine, the state Chamber of Commerce, state prosecutors, and most Republicans in the General Assembly. That opposition could make Ohio voters’ wishes a moot point. Under Ohio state law, a citizen-led initiative, if passed, goes next to the state legislature, where it could be tweaked or even repealed by the Republican-controlled body. Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman has said that repeal is a possibility.
If state legislators do not repeal the measure, possession and homegrow will become legal Dec. 7, and Ohio will become the 24th state with legal recreational marijuana. The state has had a legal medical cannabis program since 2016. Ohio is the seventh most-populous state in the country, with nearly 12 million residents.
The ballot measure includes these components, according to Marijuana Moment:
The ballot measure also creates specific deadlines for the state to issue cultivation and retail sales permits, and gives existing medical marijuana businesses the opportunity to be first in line for recreational licenses. It could take nearly a year or longer before all elements of the legal market are in place.
The measure does not provide for automatic expungements of criminal convictions for offenses that will now become legal activities.