Ohio Releases Proposed Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations

Ohio cannabis regulators last week released a draft proposal of rules to govern recreational marijuana production and sales. Voters legalized recreational marijuana in Ohio with the passage of Issue 2 in the November 2023 off-year election, making the state the 24th in the nation to largely end the criminal prohibition of cannabis.

Issue 2, which passed with 57% of the vote, legalized recreational marijuana in Ohio for adults 21 and older, who are permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates. The new law also legalizes marijuana cultivation for personal use, allowing adults to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. Households with more than one adult are permitted to grow a total of 12 plants.

The successful ballot measure also created a new state agency dubbed the Division of Cannabis Control (DCC), which will have the authority to “license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed,” according to the text of Issue 2. 

Until last week, the DCC had not yet released any rules to govern recreational marijuana production and sales in Ohio, where medical marijuana was legalized by state lawmakers in 2016. Without regulations, consumers in the state were left without a legal avenue to purchase recreational weed, a situation Governor Mike DeWine characterized as “goofy,” according to a report from online news source Cleveland Scene.

Proposed Rules Set Requirements For Legal Weed Businesses

The new proposed regulations set rules for 13 areas of recreational cannabis production and sales, using the regulations from other states that have legalized marijuana as a guide. Among the new regulations is a requirement that retail pot dispensaries be located at least 500 feet away from schools, parks, playgrounds, churches and libraries. 

Sales of recreational cannabis are restricted to adults aged 21 and over, who are required to show identification. Customers of dispensaries are required to be “escorted and monitored by an assigned registered employee at all times.” Retail dispensaries are required to close by 11 p.m.

Additionally, dispensaries are not permitted to choose or change a business name without approval from the DCC. Before beginning operations, dispensaries are required to deposit $50,000 in an escrow account, while testing labs must deposit $7,500 and the largest weed cultivators are required to maintain an escrow account of $750,000.

The regulations put limits on dispensary owners’ interest in other cannabis businesses, limiting them to one cannabis cultivator, one cannabis processor and eight retail dispensary locations. The proposed rules also set security requirements for cannabis businesses and mandate standards for the proper disposal of cannabis waste.

Retail Weed Sales Could Begin Within Weeks

Under the new rules, existing medical marijuana dispensaries could be licensed to sell adult-use cannabis as soon as June 7. Recreational dispensary licenses will be issued later, perhaps as soon as September 7.

Brian Vicente, founding partner of the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, characterized Ohio’s proposed adult-use cannabis regulations as “a sensible starting point for the Buckeye state.”  

“Unlike recent legalization states like New York that opted to draft legalization regulations from scratch, the Ohio rules clearly borrowed ideas from earlier states—resulting in a refreshing level of sophistication and understanding of the needs of both cannabis consumers and business owners,” he wrote in an email to High Times. “These regulations include commonsense ‘best practices’ for businesses in important areas like waste disposal and quality assurance, which should lead to a smooth roll-out and ongoing operations. Consumers will be able to access cannabis from stores until 11 p.m. and through drive-up windows, which will foster widespread access.”

The DCC is accepting public comments on the proposed adult-use cannabis regulations through April 17. The agency noted that the rules have not yet been finalized and are subject to change by state lawmakers.

“The following information is based on the initiated statute ballot measure approved by voters. Because it is an initiated statute, it may be amended by the state legislature,” the proposal reads. “Any amendments to the statute could impact the timeline for the rulemaking and licensing processes, and dispensary sales.”

The post Ohio Releases Proposed Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations appeared first on High Times.


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