With Issue 2 passage, here’s when you can legally possess marijuana in Ohio

Ohio adults excited by the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana Tuesday will need to wait a month to partake if they want to be legally protected.

According to the state’s final, unofficial results, the citizen-initiated statute that made Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana passed with 57% of the vote on Tuesday, winning in six of nine counties in the Miami Valley region. The law will legalize possession and home growing and creates the Division of Cannabis Control, which will eventually allow the sale and purchase of recreational marijuana products.

But Ohioans aren’t protected by the law until Dec. 7, according to Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign that drafted the law and petitioned it onto the ballot over the course of two years.

Once the bill goes into effect, it will immediately allow Ohioans over the age of 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in plant form or up to 15 grams in extract form and grow up to six marijuana plants per adult (capped at 12 plants per household).

However, the legal market outlined in Issue 2 will take much longer to actually put in place. As of now, the Division of Cannabis Control has nine months to establish its rules and licensing guidelines, but that timeline could be altered if Ohio lawmakers decide to amend Issue 2, which many legislators have highlighted as a definite possibility.

So, on Dec. 7, Ohioans 21 years old or older will have the ability to possess marijuana and grow cannabis in their own home but no way to legally obtain either plant or seed.

Haren said Issue 2 does not speak to how of-age Ohioans would get their hands on marijuana. While many Ohioans already travel to Michigan to partake in its legal market, it’s a violation of federal law to carry it over state lines.

Local action

The 30-day waiting period for possession protection gives local governments a window to decide what action, if any, they’d like to take.

“There is still home rule in Ohio, so cities can pass moratoriums on it to say, ‘Hey, woah, let us look at it,’ or they can can turn around and pass a moratorium that says ‘Yea, this might be state law but we’re not going to allow it in our jurisdiction.’ So, there’s a lot of local governments that are going to have to figure out what they’re going to do about it,” said Kettering Municipal Court Clerk Rob Scott, an attorney who previously served on the city council for 10 years.

According to Scott, those moratoriums could range from locally prohibiting recreational marijuana facilities to actually banning marijuana possession or home grow.

Absent any local restrictions, there’s still the question of how the Dec. 7 deadline will impact Ohioans who are currently facing marijuana possession charges but have not yet been convicted or sentenced.

Scott said “it’s very likely that (small marijuana charges) will potentially go away,” throughout most of the state, with the caveat that local rules and the discretion of prosecutors and judges will play a big factor in those cases.

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