The Ohio House Finance Committee heard an adult-use cannabis legalization bill Dec. 6, despite time running out in the current legislative session, which is set to adjourn Dec. 21.
Ohio Reps. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, introduced House Bill 382 last year to allow adults 21 and older to purchase and consume cannabis, as well as grow a limited number of plants at home for personal use.
“Our state is actively losing dollars to neighboring states with recreational programs and missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue,” Weinstein said, according to the news outlet.
H.B. 382 would create a cannabis regulatory agency within the Ohio Department of Commerce to oversee the licensing of cannabis cultivators, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories, NBC 4 reported. The newly established agency would be responsible for reviewing and approving license applications, as well as developing guidelines for license revocation.
The bill would levy a 10% tax on cannabis retailer’s gross sales, and directs the revenue generated to very specific areas—35% would go to road and bridge maintenance, 35% to K-12 education, and 32% to municipalities that host dispensaries, NBC 4 reported.
H.B. 382 also mandates that $20 million be designated annually for the first two years to clinical trials and research on cannabis as a treatment option for veterans, according to the news outlet.
The legislation would allow adults to possess up to 5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates, but consumption would be prohibited in public places, vehicles and K-12 schools, NBC 4 reported.
While H.B. 382 includes expungement provisions for those previously convicted of cannabis-related crimes, individuals would have to apply for expungement and are subject to a hearing, where the prosecutor could object to the motion, according to the news outlet.
H.B. 382 echoes legalization efforts from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is renewing its push to get an adult-use legalization measure before voters on Ohio’s November 2023 ballot after a lawsuit suspended the group’s 2022 campaign.
In the meantime, Weinstein and Upchurch formally introduced the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s initiated statute in the House earlier this year, despite that measure competing with the duo’s adult-use legalization bill.
The coalition’s proposal is slated for review by Ohio’s Legislature as early as January, according to NBC 4.
“I view Ohioans as largely responsible adults,” Weinstein said Tuesday. “And the reality is that many go to that state up north right now, and I hate in any way to be losing out to them on access to an industry that is growing.”