Ohioans have voted to make their state the 24th in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis use.
Preliminary results from the Nov. 7 election show 3.8 million voted on the ballot measure, with nearly 57% in favor of implementing a framework for commercializing, regulating and taxing adult-use cannabis. More than 1.6 million Ohioans voted against the measure.
The law allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, as well as grow their own plants. Furthermore, a 10% tax will be applied to purchases to support cities with dispensaries, addiction treatment programs, social equity initiatives and administrative costs.
Among the allowable forms of consumption are drops, lozenges, oils, tinctures, edibles, beverages, pills, capsules, oral pouches, oral strips, and oral and topical sprays, as well as smoking and vaporization options.
“Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue,” Tom Haren, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told AP. “Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide. Ohioans are being extremely clear on the future they want for our state: adult-use marijuana legal and regulated.”
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spearheaded an effort to collect signatures and put the question before voters. The group also worked to put the issue before Ohio’s lawmakers, who chose not to act on it earlier this year.
Ohio’s legislature legalized medical cannabis in 2016, and sales began in the state in 2019. BDSA, which recently launched retail sales tracking in Ohio, projects the state’s medical sales to reach $520 million this year. The research firm expects Ohio to launch recreational sales in 2025, contributing an estimated $300 million that year.
BDSA projected Ohio’s total cannabis sales to hit $1.65 billion in 2027.
“In recent years, the Midwest has become a thriving hub for the cannabis industry and Ohio is rapidly emerging as a promising market,” said Roy Bingham, co-founder and chief executive officer of BDSA. “Ohio’s unique regulatory environment and the increasing acceptance of medical cannabis underline the significance of this market, and BDSA is committed to providing the insights needed to navigate its evolving landscape.”
Cresco Labs, a donor to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, operates a 50,000-sq.-ft. cultivation and processing facility in Yellow Springs and distributes products to approximately 60 percent of Ohio’s 111 medical dispensaries. It has five Sunnyside dispensaries in Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Marion, Newark and Wintersville.
“It is clear when cannabis is on the ballot, people turn out to vote,” said Cresco Labs CEO Charles Bachtell. “We commend the people of Ohio for raising their voices on an important issue that has helped break down barriers of partisanship in states across the country. Now, over 85 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state with some form of legal cannabis, and over 50 percent reside in a state with adult-use cannabis — the tipping point has been reached.”
Ayr Wellness, which announced the opening of two Ohio dispensaries this week, has been scaling its presence in the state. The company operates a 58,000-sq.-ft. cultivation facility in Parma, and it plans to acquire a third dispensary in Riverside.
“Ohio is one of the most promising cannabis markets in the country, with a growing medical program and adult-use legalization to appear on this week’s ballot referendum,” said David Goubert, president and CEO of AYR. “Via our support relationship with Twice the Wellness in Woodmere and Heaven Wellness in Goshen, we look forward to building a great relationship with customers and both local communities.”
The law will take effect Dec. 7. However, WKYC reported Ohio's Republican leaders, including Gov. Mike DeWine, would like to tweak it, particularly around advertising to children, driving under the influence, and smelling and inhaling cannabis in public places. As an initiated state statute, lawmakers may make adjustments within the 30-day window between the election and its effective date.
“We respect what the people have done,” DeWine told reporters. “What the people have clearly told us is they want legal marijuana in Ohio. We are going to see that they have that. We’re also going to live up to our responsibility to all the people in the state of Ohio, whether they voted for it or voted against it.”