Ohio became the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis in America after a voter-approved recreational marijuana initiative took effect. But, even though adults aged 21 years and older are now allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and 1.5 grams of marijuana extract, the state has no authorized cannabis retailers.
Additionally, the state Division of Cannabis Control won’t start to process cannabis retailer applications until June 2024, meaning Ohio residents won’t have an avenue for legal adult-use purchases until late summer or even early fall.
The silver lining is that the cannabis legalization measure allows eligible Ohioans to cultivate up to six cannabis plants per household. Although the measure allowed up to 12 plants for a home with more than one eligible adult, a state senate bill reduced this limit to just six plants for every household. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine argued that the six plants per household allowed by Issue 2 were already more than a single person could consume alone.
For most Ohioans who want to consume cannabis in the meantime, home growing is the only legal means of doing so. Cannabis plants are fast growing and take three to four months to mature and bud. According to Cali Vybe Hydroponics from Finneytown, many more people have expressed interest in its products since Issue 2 passed and legalized recreational cannabis in Ohio.
For many, home cultivation provides a way to avoid pricey cannabis products from licensed shops and reduces the risk of consuming contaminated marijuana. Ohio Department of Commerce director Sherry Maxfield estimates that a mature homegrown cannabis plant can produce between 75 and 100 joints, meaning a sophisticated grower can yield significant cannabis in just a single year.
The fact that Ohio doesn’t have any authorized cannabis sellers despite legalizing recreational cannabis worries Senate President Matt Huffman because it could open the door for illicit sellers to carve out a market for themselves. Most states with cannabis markets, including California, which has the largest legal cannabis market on the globe, are struggling to compete with the cannabis black market.
Without a place to buy legal cannabis, many Ohioans may opt for the black market, especially since Issue 2 allows landlords to prohibit home-cannabis cultivation on their properties if it is specified on the lease. Cannabis from licensed sellers is several times more expensive than black-market marijuana due to numerous fees and taxes, resulting in reduced legal sales and a bountiful cannabis black market.
As this new market takes shape, it could easily attract established companies such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) that may be considering expanding into additional markets.
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