Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has urged state lawmakers to enable recreational marijuana sales before the end of the year. During a recent interview with newspaper editors, Gov. DeWine said that although Ohio voters approved a measure to legalize recreational cannabis in late 2023, recreational sales won’t begin until the end of 2024.
The governor noted that Ohio is in a sort of “goofy situation” where recreational cannabis consumption and cultivation are legal, but the state still hasn’t approved retail locations to sell adult-use marijuana. As a result, black-market sellers are stepping in and taking advantage of the market gap to sell unregulated cannabis to often unsuspecting consumers.
The Republican governor called the situation a “real mess” and called on the Republican-controlled legislature to take action and remedy the issue by granting the authority to start selling legal adult-use cannabis in the state. He suggested that the state could start by allowing adult-use cannabis sales through medical marijuana dispensaries with the possibility of launching sales around 60 days after a legislature-passed initiative.
DeWine has already expressed support for a recreational cannabis regulation bill that was passed by the Senate in December and is still waiting for action by House legislators.
According to DeWine, gaining the support of both the Senate and House will be critical to starting a conversation about legal adult-use cannabis sales and working on a bill to facilitate legal sales.
Ohio became the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis after voters approved Issue 2 in the November 2023 ballot. Issue 2 allowed adults aged 21 years and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and 15 grams of marijuana extract. Eligible adults can also grow up to six cannabis plants in households with one adult and up to twelve plants in homes with more than one eligible adult.
DeWine is adamant that Ohio lawmakers advance legislation as soon as possible and ban the purchase of intoxicating hemp products as the legislature comes back into session this year.
The cannabis black market is a problem that affects most states with legal markets, including California, which is currently the largest cannabis market on the globe. DeWine is keen on avoiding the issue before Ohio’s adult-use industry launches.
Such a bill would allow regulated retailers to begin selling recreational cannabis “on a controlled basis,” DeWine says, and would allow the state to launch adult-use sales quickly through medical marijuana centers.
Operators in more mature cannabis markets, such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF), will be watching to see how Ohio navigates its entry into the fast-growing recreational marijuana industry.
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