Ohio’s medical cannabis industry flourished in 2021, but advocates envision bigger things for 2022

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to resist the cannabis reform movement in America, with so many places on the nation’s map transforming from “red zones” to “green zones”. 

Last year alone, adult-use cannabis was legalized in Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia. That’s without even mentioning the stiff deliberation over bills to allow adult-use cannabis sales in 27 other states, one of which was Ohio.

It remains to be seen as to whether or not 2021’s discussions over recreational cannabis will influence any real changes to Ohio’s law in 2022. However, experts are optimistic that cannabis legalization in Ohio could happen before the year’s end.

How could recreational cannabis in Ohio become legal in 2022?

The focus is gradually shifting from the 133,866 Ohioans who are already enrolled to receive/are already buying medical cannabis. With that being said, advocates are paying close attention to the signs that statewide cannabis reform could be nigh. For example, last year, Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy announced that it would permit 73 new dispensaries; submitted applications will be reviewed during the beginning of 2022. 

Additionally, medical cannabis cultivators are now allowed to increase the capacity of their grow facilities and, in turn, churn out more products for the inflating consumer demographic. Consequently, this would prepare the state to meet the demands of an adult-use market, which is likely to overshadow the medical sector.

Let’s take a look at the three most likely scenarios for cannabis legalization in Ohio:

  • Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol’s Initiated Statute – Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol’ recently submitted over 200,000 signatures from Ohioans.
  • Democratic Lawmakers’ proposal – Introduced by Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Rep. Terrence UpChurch, (D-Cleveland), the Democratic proposal would allow adults to possess and grow cannabis for personal and commercial purposes, as well as seal the records of people with low-level cannabis crimes.
  • Republican Lawmakers’ proposal – Put forward by Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Rep. Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville), this proposal aims to legalize the plant in its entirety, making it the first Republican proposal of its kind.

“Some of those states that are legalizing cannabis are just liberal states that wanted an extra party drug,” said Rep. Callender. “Ohio is a bit more discriminate than that, we’re a little bit more conservative than that and it makes sense that our adult-use program would be a more conservative model.”

10-percent tax to be imposed on recreational cannabis sales in Ohio

All three of Ohio’s cannabis reform proposals would impose a 10 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales. Registered medical cannabis patients would not need to pay this tax, which would be allocated depending on the specific proposal.

Tax revenue earned through the Initiated Statute would be used to support programs on addiction and social equity, all the while saving some funds to communities that embrace the dispensary scene.

The Democratic proposal, on the other hand, would funnel the funds into cannabis research projects. Some of the money would also be used to fix damaged public roads, support education and strengthen research studies.

The Republican proposal seeks to send 50 percent of revenue to the state’s General Fund, while also supporting programs on drug abuse and trafficking.

It should be noted that these cannabis tax revenue-accumulating strategies do not yet exist.