Ohio could become the 24th state to legalize marijuana or reject legalization for a second time

Ohio voters will decide on a citizen-initiated ballot measure, titled Issue 2, to legalize marijuana on Nov. 7.

Should voters approve Issue 2, Ohio would be the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana and the 13th state, along with Washington D.C., to do so through the citizen initiative process.

Voters rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana in Ohio in 2015. There were several differences between this year’s initiative and the initiative in 2015, such commercial licensing of facilities.

Ohio Issue 2 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.

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.

From 2012 through 2018, the citizen initiative process was used to legalize marijuana in 9 states and D.C.:

*2012: Colorado and Washington;

*2014: Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.;

*2016: California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada; and

*2018: Michigan.

In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through enacting a bill into law. Illinois followed, legalizing marijuana through a legislative bill in 2019. Vermont does not have a citizen initiative process, and in Illinois, Initiatives are restricted to amending Article IV of the Illinois Constitution, which addresses the structure of the Illinois State Legislature, meaning an initiative to legalize marijuana could not be pursued in Illinois.

In 2020, two states legalized marijuana through a citizen initiative (Arizona and Montana) and New Jersey became the first state to refer a ballot measure to voters to decide on marijuana legalization.

By 2021, 14 states and Washington, D.C. had legalized marijuana. Throughout the year, four states enacted bills to legalize marijuana in 2021, (New York, Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut), bringing the new total to 18 states and D.C.

The 2022 elections saw the addition of two states to this list, as Maryland and Missouri approved marijuana legalization measures: Maryland through a measure referred to the ballot by its state legislature and Missouri through a citizen initiative.

In 2023, Delaware and Minnesota became the 22nd and 23rd states to legalize marijuana through legislative bills signed into law.

Ohio is one of 11 states that has an initiative process and that has yet to legalize marijuana. The other states are Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Oklahoma voters rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana on March 7, 2023. Initiatives were rejected by voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota in 2022. Florida voters may decide on a marijuana legalization initiative in 2024.

Additional reading: Marijuana laws and ballot measures in the United States