COLUMBUS, Ohio — Legal marijuana may be on its way to Ohio.
This week, two Ohio House Republicans proposed legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Republican state Reps. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) are proposing new legislation that would allow Ohioans to buy marijuana much like people who need it medically are now.
Their bill hasn’t been formally introduced yet, but would expand upon the state’s medical marijuana program allowing people 21 and older to buy from licensed distributors or grow up to six plants at home.
“I fully trust adults of Ohio to make decisions for themselves. And now's the right time that we really ought to do that,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson said that’s why they decided to introduce the bill now–along with strong public support and interest in marijuana being legalized.
“It's showing that people are more and more receptive to this, especially for the 21 and over crowd,” said Ferguson.
Democratic state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) agrees, saying the topic has widespread bipartisan support.
That's part of the reason why he and Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) introduced a similar bill back in July.
“Majorities of folks across the political spectrum want to do this,” said Weinstein.
But though they have the same goal, the bills are different.
“It authorizes anyone to use recreationally or personally or for medicinal purposes, marijuana up to five ounces of personal possession and 10 potted plants for personal cultivation or private cultivation,” said Weinstein.
While Ferguson and Callender’s bill is an expansion of the medical marijuana program, Weinstein and Upchurch’s is not.
Both impose a 10% sales tax, but through Ferguson and Callender’s bill that money will be split between law enforcement (25%), mental health services (25%), and the state’s general fund (50%), while Weinstein and Upchurch’s bill will direct funds into communities where dispensaries and grow sites are located, for K-12 schools, veterans’ programs, and infrastructure.
Weinstein and Upchurch’s bill has been referred to the House finance committee, and Ferguson expects his and Callender’s bill to be introduced by Thanksgiving, if not sooner.
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