Ohio voters will decide on an initiative, titled Issue 2, to legalize marijuana for adult use on Nov. 7.
If the initiative is approved, Ohio would be the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana. Based on U.S. Census data, 49.07% of Americans currently live in states where marijuana has been legalized. Approval of Issue 2 in Ohio would push this figure past 50%, reaching 52.56%, meaning that a majority of U.S. residents would then be living in states where marijuana was legalized.
The initiative would legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older. Under the measure, adults would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates and be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. A 10% tax on marijuana sales would also be established, with the revenue going to a cannabis social equity and jobs program.
The initiative was sponsored by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which has received $4.62 million in contributions according to the most recent campaign finance reports that covered information through June. Marijuana Policy Project contributed $2.52 million to the campaign.
In August, Protect Ohio Workers and Families launched its campaign to oppose the initiative. The committee has yet to file campaign finance reports. The next reports are due on Oct. 26.
Twenty-three (23) states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana. In 12 states and D.C., the ballot initiative process was used to legalize marijuana. In two states, the legislature referred a measure to the ballot for voter approval. In nine states, bills to legalize marijuana were enacted into law.
The 2022 elections saw the addition of two states to this list, as Maryland and Missouri approved marijuana legalization measures, while Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected similar proposals. The most recent measure on the ballot to legalize recreational marijuana was in Oklahoma on March 7, 2023, and it was defeated with 38% voting ‘yes’ and 61% voting ‘no’.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Ohio. Ohio voters previously defeated Issue 3, a marijuana legalization initiative that was on the ballot in 2015. Issue 3 would have legalized marijuana and authorized 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow marijuana.
On Nov. 7, Ohio voters will also decide on an amendment to provide a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion.