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2 Democratic lawmakers from Northeast Ohio introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 19:04:17-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Democratic lawmakers from Northeast Ohio have introduced legislation that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Ohio.

State Reps. Casey Weinstein from Hudson and Terrence Upchurch from Cleveland introduced a bill that has four major components: decriminalization, marijuana excise tax, commerce and licensing, and medical marijuana.

“This bill is much needed in Ohio, and it’s time for Ohio to become a national leader in marijuana decriminalization and legalization. This bill is more than just about legalization, it’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about healthcare! The time is now, and I look forward to getting this done in a bipartisan fashion,” said Rep. Upchurch.

Five years ago, Ohio barely passed legislation allowing medical marijuana, with the first sales happening in January 2019.

This legislation would allow for adult cultivation and possession of marijuana, and allows for the expungement of conviction records for previous cultivation and possession offenses.

“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” said Rep. Weinstein. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”

"When we talk about criminal justice aspects, this bill would have a direct impact on communities I represent and people that look like me," Rep. Upchurch said. "These are folks having a hard time applying for student loans, getting employment, and I think if we are able to expunge these records and allow these people to finally matriculate back into society, we’ll begin to see these communities make a turn for the better."

The bill would also levy an excise tax of 10% on a marijuana retailer's or microbusiness's gross receipts from the sale of marijuana. The money from the tax revenue would go to fund primary and secondary education, help repair roads and bridges and up to $20 million annually for two years would be used for clinical trials that would research the efficacy of marijuana in treating conditions of veterans and preventing veteran suicide.

The bill now awaits a bill number and committee assignment.

The proposed bill comes after the “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” started the process to change Ohio laws so that people 21 and older can possess and use marijuana.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is submitting a summary of its proposed language along with 1,000 signatures to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Should the bill pass, it will face one more hurdle. A spokesperson for Governor Mike DeWine confirmed to News 5 that the governor still opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.

We asked the president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio about this proposed legislation and how it could impact police. The president declined to make a comment on the matter at this time.

RELATED: 'Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol' launches new bid to legalize recreational cannabis

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