CLEVELAND — Two Ohio lawmakers have drafted another bill that would legalize and regulate sales for both personal and commercial cultivation of marijuana while keeping our current medical marijuana program intact.
Under the bill, those medical businesses could get a license for the recreational programs as well.
Those with nonviolent, low-level marijuana convictions could have their records sealed. This decriminalization could fill jobs in Ohio while giving back resources to law enforcement.
News 5 spoke to one of the lawmakers who has co-sponsored the legislation to find out what makes this bill different from others that could potentially move it forward this time around.
Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said since Ohio has successfully rolled out and expanded its medical marijuana program, and now is the best time to move forward with regulating recreational marijuana.
“Right now the reality is if Ohio doesn't act, we are falling behind,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein along with representative Terrence UpChurch, (D-Cleveland), believe their new push to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio will have a much stronger momentum this time around.
“I think the time is right. The people are ready and it's so beneficial in terms of revenues that we can drive back into communities and improve lives. For Ohioans, it just made a lot of sense,” Weinstein said.
Six years ago, 64% of Ohioans voted against a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, but it would have only been grown at 10 pre-selected sites owned by investors.
“Unfortunately, it ended up with a really flawed monopolistic type of approach that excluded a lot of Ohio from the benefits,” he said.
But since then, recreational marijuana has now grown to become legal in 19 states including Michigan, which their proposal is modeled after.
“What I hope this does is add to the critical mass nationally that will compel the federal government to act,” Weinstein said.
Even though federal law still outlaws marijuana in all of its forms, the federal government hasn't been enforcing those laws so now there’s an even stronger push to get Congress to make a new federal law that is consistent in all 50 states.
In order for the proposal to pass in Ohio, state democrats need to get republicans on board and right now the Cincinnati Enquirer reports DeWine is still opposed to legalization.
“But I think the most important thing when we talk bipartisanship is, is the data. And time and time again, it shows that Ohioans want this change,” Weinstein said.
The full text of the proposed bill has not yet been released. Democratic lawmakers expect to formally file the legislation in the next few days once certain details are finalized.
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