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Questions linger for Ohio’s cannabis legalization law

© iStock - Nikolay Evsyukov
Nadia Ramlagan

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(Ohio News Connection) After a statewide vote on Issue Two to make recreational cannabis legal in Ohio, experts said confusion remains as lawmakers attempt to implement stricter regulations.

House Bill 86 would restrict marijuana use to private residences, limit homegrown plants to six per household, and increase the plant's excise tax from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign, said it is critical states have the ability to modify regulations in a relatively new landscape of cannabis legalization but he believes curbing adult use laws could have economic impacts.

"Our regulations can grow along with the industry," Haren acknowledged. "What we certainly didn't want was for the industry and Issue Two to be kneecapped before it has a chance to even be implemented."

Ohio regulators are expected to approve licenses for dispensaries beginning next year. Until then, the sale and purchase of cannabis in the state remains illegal. 

Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, said policymakers should work toward solutions for addressing how criminalizing cannabis possession has affected communities of color, including expungement of some criminal records.

"How are we going to deal with our criminal justice system about those who are currently still incarcerated, or who are not incarcerated who've been criminalized and received convictions for cannabis?" Brent asked.

Research shows despite an overall decline in cannabis-related arrests nationwide, stark disparities remain among racial groups, and have persisted in some states following legalization.